necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

30 June 2008

vegan challenge: lentil burgers

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been challenging myself to prepare meals that (while still abiding within the already gluten-free and dairy-free parameters of this blog, because if I can't eat it, I'm not gonna cook it) are:

  • vegan (no animal products of any kind including: meat, eggs, dairy, casein, honey, etc.)
  • do this while limiting my use of tofu or other soy-based food items
  • the food is tasty & satisfying, and finger-lickin' good (my apologies to the Colonel)
Ilse asked a really good question about the why behind limiting the use of tofu or other soy products. Since it's a darn good question, here's a few [hopefully] darn good answers:

1. It is a challenge, after all. In general, tofu is an easy protein "fallback" in vegetarian cooking (and for good reason: the stuff is incredibly versatile and really good for you!!). I want to broaden my horizons, think outside the box, embrace the challenge aspect of this & see what other options are out there for healthy vegan cooking that also provides the protein our bodies need.

2. Allergy awareness. I know at least a few people now who have soy allergies. Thankfully, I am not one of them, but I wanted to challenge myself to make healthy, delicious, vegan meals that my soy-sensitive friends could enjoy too.

3. Global thinking. I learned from a friend of mine who has Brasilian heritage that a lot of the deforestation in Brasil may be because of the soy crop that is planted there. I think much of this may be to produce alternative fuel, but I still want to be mindful of how I might be contributing to that. There seems to be some debate about whether or not the soy crop is actually having a detrimental effect on the rainforests, but still ... it can't hurt to explore alternative protein options!!

Anyway ...

so, why this recipe?
Something I've missed sorely since learning I cannot tolerate gluten is veggie burgers.

I know!! You'd think those would be safe, right? But all those veggie burgers you see in the grocery store contain wheat flour and/or whole grains (including wheat) to act as a binder and to improve the texture. I have made a tofu-based version a few times that only took four or five attempts to perfect and satisfy my rigorous standards, but after some tweaking, I think I'm enjoying this recipe even more!!

totally-good-for-you ingredients:
2/3 c. green lentils (or your favorite lentil variety)
2 c. vegetable broth (I prefer No Chicken Broth by Imagine Foods), or water
2-3 tbsp. of your favorite salt-free herb blend
1/2 finely chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. wheat-free tamari (or soy sauce, or worcestershire if you can handle gluten)
2/3 c. sunflower seeds (raw and shelled)
rice flour
olive oil

bring broth to a boil, add herbs
after lowering to medium heat, add lentils
cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes)

place in blender or food processor
add chopped onion, tamari sauce
puree until mixture reaches desired smoothness
** you may need to add a bit of additional liquid to ease the pureeing process**

NOTE: don't worry about the lentils being pureed until perfectly smooth. So long as it's a bit "doughy", you're good to go!!

empty lentil mixture into a large bowl
pour in whole sunflower seeds, stir well into lentils
add and fold in rice flour a few tablespoons at a time until lentil mixture sticks together well and forms a nice ball, not sticking too much to your hands (I think I used 2/3 - 3/4 cup).
with your hands, separate into balls and press into desired size of patties

in a large skillet, add a good pour of olive oil and heat skillet to medium heat
add lentil patties to skillet and cook on both sides until lightly browned and slightly crispy on the outside.

make 4-6 patties, depending on size.

Enjoy on a bun or by itself, with avocado slices (I ate mine before i took this photo!!) or your favorite condiment and a side of healthy veggies.

Making it your own? Tell me how you improved upon it!!

more more more ...
  • See another delicious recipe with lentils here.
  • Check out the health benefits of lentils here.


Sarah said...

I, for one, am thankful for the lack of tofu, first because the only good tofu I've had is at my local Thai restaurant, and secondly because it appears to make Dave sick, at least some of the time...these look fabulous...I'll have to try them...maybe tonight...

Sarah said...

Ok, so I just made these (albeit the gluten-ful, non-vegan kind, because I don't own things like rice flour)...and they look fabulous...too bad I have to wait until Dave comes home to eat them!!

kirsten said...

yeah!! i hope you like them sarah. and i bet they'll be even better the gluten-full way!! :o)