With Labor Day fast approaching and many of us trying to stay on the HEALTHY BANDWAGON we're thinking what in the heck are we going to take (much less eat) to/at the family picnic! And we all know how difficult it can be to eat healthy when you're faced with an entire table filled with fried chicken, hot dogs, BBQ, banana pudding, etc. that winds up at these shindigs. Everyone is gorging themselves and then leaves wondering why they feel so poorly afterward and in a state of stupor :) Ahhh, the great American way!
Well, here lately I've been like a crazy mad women on a kick and in the test kitchen coming up with veggie burger recipes that aren't too mushy, that are super tasty and that are a "man's meal" so to speak, aka - real meaty! After all, burgers need to be "meaty" if you ask me. And I really dig this one, which is a LENTIL AND CHEDDAR BURGER, on a gluten-free bun. I like to think I have finally perfected it.
The basis for it are cooked lentils and really add tons of nutrients (fiber, iron, protein, vitamin B1, B6, potassium - to name a few). You guys know I'm all about nutrition and healthy, but I cannot LET ME SAY - I CANNOT eat something that doesn't taste good. There has to be both. Legumes are great and are a fantastic base to add to so many things especially vegetarian dishes. They are very versatile. Who doesn't like that? It's like having a blank slate to work with where you can let the creativity fly..........
While I really wanted to make this VEGAN, you obviously have cheese in here (note the cheddar in title) and I did add range-free eggs to help hold it together. It is however, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free and super delicious! It was surprisingly very meaty and filling. And super easy to make. These are great to put together ahead, freeze and cook later on, as well. They do so very nicely without messing up the texture. AND better yet, you can cook them, freeze and pull them out of the freezer as needed. I love that they are from fresh ingredients which in turn make them so much better than store bought burgers. I hope you'll consider trying these as I think they are amazing and can't wait to pull the next batch out of the freezer and try new veggies on them. Perhaps I'll put them in a lettuce wrap next time! OHHH what a grand idea!
With this much goodness, who needs meat?
NOTE: The first sauce I made was a simple garlic aioli with crushed garlic, lemon juice, organic mayo, salt and pepper, olive oil. The second time I simply used stone ground mustard and a little organic mayo. My toppings were organic cucumber slices, organic arugula, sustainable radish sprouts and micro greens from the local farms. But really, you could add whatever you have on hand or have a taste for.
Place first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard bay leaves. Place lentils in a large bowl; partially mash with a potato masher. Cool slightly. While you are waiting on these, go ahead and make your bread crumbs by putting a handful of crackers into the processor until you get a semi-fine texture).
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.
Add onion mixture, cheese, and next 8 ingredients (cheese through eggs) to lentils; stir well to combine. Cover and chill 45 minutes. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty (or to your preference).
Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add half of patties, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure with remaining patties. Top with your favorite veggies / sauce. Serve either in bun or lettuce as a wrap.
Did you ever eat something you just new was going to be healthy and then unexpectedly, it was delicious - all at the same time? It messes with your mind - at first!
Now I know you are probably thinking EW, when you hear "Millet Burger" and that's what I thought when I first heard the term. As a matter of fact, I was discussing this dish with my 86 year-old dad who grew up on a farm in Georgia, and he kind of chuckled saying "We used to use millet on the farm - to feed the chickens." I shrugged my shoulders and thought, those must have been the healthiest chickens around!
When I realized I had to change my diet to a gluten-free diet and was in the process of changing my entire lifestyle of eating, I was looking for every cookbook imaginable to help me navigate the transition. And I knew that eating certain healthy allergy free grains were going to have to be included in my new diet plan. One of my favorite books quickly became (and still is to this day) "Eating Clean" by Amie Valpone. The book begins with a 21-Day Detox and helps you reset your body. I will tell you, it goes deep and talks about the chemicals in the every day items we use around the house, on our bodies, etc. along with the foods we eat. AND, it has some of the most amazing - CLEAN recipes. Some are a little challenging but I love a challenge. And this recipe came from this book. When I first tried it I did have to make some adjustments of my own, but I had never eaten millet in my entire life! I had no idea what to expect but knew it was healthy and thought, what they hey!
For those of you (like I was) who have never tried millet, it is a grain and one of the most least-allergenic grains out there. It is definitely gluten-free and great for celiacs, and those who are allergic or have sensitivities to wheat. It is so healthy and good for you and can be made into really great recipes if you have the patience and are willing to try new things (this is key). It's high in protein and fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium, calcium & zinc. As far as taste is concerned is reminds me a little of couscous, in both taste and texture and it is very versatile.
I will give you the heads up that when originally making this recipe a year or so ago, I remember having a big pile of mess while trying to form the burgers. They would NOT stick together. The only real binding ingredient being the flaxseed and water (flax egg) and it just wasn't enough for me. I wound up adding a free-range egg and a little gluten-free flour. Kudos to you, if you can get them to stick together without these alternate ingredients but beware! You'll want to throw it all in the trash because it can be quite aggravating. Don't hate the messenger. Simply add the egg and flour and you'll be good to go.
Make sure your mango is ripe but not too ripe, and that you allow the salsa to sit a little bit so it can have time to mingle in the bowl with the other ingredients. The flavors will be so great and such a wonderful accompaniment, alongside the cashew cream. Also for the salsa, if you don't like cucumbers (or they don't like you), you can substitute with celery. The celery gives it a great crunch! Feel free to make these two items ahead of time, they will be fine in the refrigerator for a day or so. You can serve these millet burgers as burgers in lettuce or as a simple salad. To serve them as veggie burgers, simply place them inside a leave of Bibb or romaine. Enjoy this delicious, nutritious goodness! And feel good about your choice of eating healthy and trying something a little off the beaten path.
HERE'S THE SCOOP:
Cumin Cashew Cream Cheese
1 cup raw cashews (do not use reg salted and roasted you will regret it)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients in blender or processor until smooth. Serve shilled or at room temperature. Store remainder in fridge for up to 5 days. Use on other items like celery, salads, carrots, etc.
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely diced
1 English cucumber, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 chopped jalapeno - seeds removed (optional)
Seas salt and fresh black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to combine.
Flax Egg Mixture
Lemon Basil Millet Burgers
1 cup cooked millet (go by instructions on package, it will vary - see note below)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus a pinch
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3 tablespoons water
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil
6 large romaine or Bibb lettuce leave
Cumin Cashew Sauce
Cook millet with a pinch of salt according to the package directions. While the millet is cooking, combine the flaxseed and water in a small bowl; set aside until the mixture forms a gel, about 10 minutes. Then mix well. (Did you know this is what they call a flax egg?)
Combine the carrots, scallions, basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a large bowl with the flaxseed-carrot mixture into 6 burgers (at this stage is where you will want to add 1 range-free egg and a little flower to make them hold together, unless you get lucky) - or if you want to keep these VEGAN skip adding the egg - you could try a vegan egg.
In a large skillet (I like to use my cast iron - it just seems to work great for this), heat the oil over medium. Cook them until golden brown, 7 - 8 minutes on each side. Serve warm, wrapped in lettuce leaves with a dollop of the Mango Salsa and a drizzle of Cumin Cashew Cream Sauce. Uncooked burgers will keep for up to (4) days in the fridge or (1) month in the freezer, stored between pieces of parchment paper in a sealed container.
Note: If using organic sprouted millet, the cooking time will greatly increase. Mine took all of 90 minutes but so worth it. There are shorter cooking versions - I think Red Mill has one. I've used it before.
I hope you will try these. And be sure to tag me to let me know. They are so fresh, different, healthy and delicious! And you don't want the chickens to have all the fun, do you?
This post was written by Susan Avello, Personal Chef at Lean Bean Chef Personal Chef Services in Dothan Alabama - offering Healthy Meal Prep, Meal Planning, Private Cooking Classes, Private Dinner Parties and Education on Healthy Eating.
by Chef Susan Avello
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