It’s surprising how well you can make due in a borrowed kitchen, especially one that looks out to palm trees and water. I was proud of myself for only bringing three pieces of kitchen equipment with us to Florida – sharp knife, cast iron skillet, wooden spoon. The owner told us that the furnished apartment we would be renting for 2 months had a “fully equipped” kitchen, so I put faith in her description and limited myself to the essentials. Plus, beyond my husband’s bike and dive gear, the computer printer, our clothes and Emma (our dog), we couldn’t fit much more in the truck.
As for “fully equipped,” let’s just say our basic kitchen needs are met. The only purchase required upon arrival was a bamboo cutting board to replace the plastic one worn from years of use. I do miss my pressure cooker though.
This recipe was inspired by several veggie burger recipes that I have found over the years, most notably the Ultimate Veggie Burger created by Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks. The beauty of a good veggie burger recipe is that you can swap the beans for any you have on hand. And you can be creative with the seasonings. I had cilantro in the fridge, but any herb or combination of herbs would be delicious – basil, parsley, chives, dill. Maybe some paprika, curry powder or toasted cumin. You get the idea. Don’t leave out the bell pepper though. It provides the much-needed moisture.
1/2 cup red lentils, cooked* and drained
2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked** and drained
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, beaten
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large shallot or small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red, yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
+ 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup cooked lentils, salt, cilantro, garlic, shallot, lemon zest, bell pepper, bread crumbs and olive oil.
Add the chickpeas and eggs to a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined. Pour this into the lentil and bread crumb mixture. Stir with a spoon. The mixture should be moist.
Scoop 12 even sized balls onto a plate. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Heat olive oil or butter (or a combination of the two as I love to do) in a medium-sized skillet. Gently form the balls into 1/2-inch thick patties and place them onto the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Place the finished veggie burgers on a sheet pan in the oven to keep warm.
Bring the warm veggie burgers to the table along with an assortment of fillings. We used goat cheese, caramelized onions, spinach and avocado. The possibilities are endless – roasted red peppers, sautéed greens, radishes, pickled red onions, sweet or spicy mustard…
*Prepare the Lentils
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup lentils. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Measure 1/2 cup cooked red lentils. Reserve the remaining lentils another use.
**Prepare the Chickpeas (Quick Soak Method)
Pour the beans into a large sauce pot and cover by 2 inches of cool water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that collects along the surface. Turn off the heat and leave on the stove-top, covered, 1 hour. Drain and rinse in cool running water.
Pour the beans back into the sauce pot and again cover by 2 inches of cool water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, 1 hour and 45 minutes. At this point, check the beans for doneness. A fully cooked bean should mash easily between your fingers.
Measure 2 cups cooked and drained beans, and set aside to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid and remaining beans for another use.