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.
by Chef Susan Avello
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