It’s officially summertime in our household. How do I know that? Well, my definition of summer has several criteria. The first time we turn the air conditioner on is a good rule of thumb.
I also look for the sweet, intoxicating smell of honeysuckle as we take our morning walk with the dogs.
I confess, this is one of my favorite indicators of summer.
But there’s also the fact that our yard is filled with delicate, yellow blossoms; another good indicator that summer is in full bloom.
There is also, of course, the arrival of insects. These bees are a sure-fire way to know that summer has arrived. I can handle little, innocent bees. It’s the RVs full of mosquitoes that we hate to see pulling in for the summer.
But the real indication that summer is here is when school is out and the days fill with camps, friends, and fun. You know what that means? Less time and tolerance for standing in the kitchen for long periods. I want quick and easy recipes. But they have to rank high on the tasty scale too! What is a vegan family to do?
I decided to kick off the summer lineup of simple summer recipes with these Easy Vegan Lentil Burgers. Healthy, easy, inexpensive and oh-so-tasty, these are absolutely my favorite. In fact, I like to make a double batch and freeze some for easy mid-week meals.
Easy Vegan Lentil Burgers
(Inspired by a recipe for Lentil Loaf on the site My Vegan Cookbook)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 cup Chopped Onion
- ½ cup Chopped Red Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato paste
- ½ Block Extra Firm Tofu, Pressed to drain extra fluid
- 1 ½ cups Lentils, Cooked according to package directions
- 1 Tablespoon Bragg
- 1 cup Yellow Corn Meal
- 1 cup Buckwheat Flour (or wheat flour if you’re sensitivity free)
- ½ Teaspoon Sage
- ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
Over medium high heat, cook chopped onions and red pepper with the olive oil in a skillet. Cook for several minutes before adding 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Now you’ve got a yummy caramelized mixture!
In a medium-size bowl add the pressed tofu and use a potato masher to squash the tofu into a fine consistency. Ssometimes I’ll even use my freshly washed hands to get the tofu just right. Next I add the Bragg to the tofu and stir it a bit to give it some color. Nobody likes white chunks of tofu shining peeking their lentil burger!
Now add the lentils and mash those up a bit as well. It’s ok if some of the lentils remain whole, but you want a good portion of them to get mashed. Next, add the cooked onion mixture, tomato paste, corn meal, and spices. Did I leave anything out? I think that covers it. So, stir the mixture until well combined and then form into patties. You can add more cornmeal if the batter is too sticky. Oh, and make sure you help these burgers earn their stripes by patting them firmly between your hands to get them to stay together nicely. They’re not called patties for nothing!
At this point, I use the same skillet that I cooked the onions in because there’s usually a flavorful coating on the pan. Spray with a little bit of cooking spray, and place 3 or 4 of the patties at a time in the skillet. Use a spatula to flatten the patties if needed. At this point in the process, I like to sprinkle some cracked pepper or sea salt on the top (uncooked) side of the patty. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until the bottom side is brown, then flip and cook the other side as well. Allow the lentil burgers enough time so all the ingredients cook in together.
I set the cooked burgers in a pan and place them in a warm toaster oven while I cook the remaining patties. You can eat these lentil burgers once they’ve cooled to your liking or you can freeze them for quick summer meals!
Serving suggestions: Place lentil burger between two slices of a grilled bun (put a little olive oil in your skillet – yes, that same one again – and place the buns face down in the skillet and cook until the bread is lightly browned). Or you can do like me, and opt for a gluten free dinner by placing your lentil burger between two slices of lettuce. Top with lettuce, grilled onions, and your favorite condiments.
However, you eat these Lentil Burgers, be prepared for a satisfying lunch or dinner by the pool (even if it’s just a kiddy pool in the backyard)!