There’s something so comforting and satisfying about a bowl of homemade lentil soup. Oh sure, lentils are both inexpensive and good for you…I know that. There are lots of things that are inexpensive and good for you. But it’s the aroma and taste of that steamy bowl of lentil soup that I love.
Lentils are rich in protein, dietary fiber and folic acid, vitamin C, B vitamins, essential amino acids and trace minerals. I’ve read that lentils are good for weight loss, as they are relatively low in calories and the fiber in lentils makes you feel full longer. Just Google “lentils nutrition” to learn more; they truly are a miracle food.
Years ago I was addicted to lentil burgers that were on the menu of a local restaurant. I don’t know why I never tried to make them at home back then, but I didn’t. But recently, as I was cooking up a pot of lentil soup, those lentil burgers came to mind and I thought I’d try to take some of the lentils from the soup I was making and see if I could make burgers.
I make my lentil soup with some Knorr vegetable bouillion cubes, bay leaf and chopped tomato. Once the lentils have cooked substantially, I add chopped onion and minced garlic. I cook that for about 15 minutes and then add additional chopped vegetables, usually carrot, celery and a small potato.…and a good shot of cayenne pepper.
So what I’ve been doing to make my lentil burgers is to put about 1/2 cup of oatmeal (I use the old fashioned kind but I’m sure you could use the quick cook variety) in a bowl. Then, with a large slotted spoon, I scoop out about 1 and 1/2 cups of lentils with most of the liquid drained out. I do this after I’ve added the onion and garlic but before I add the carrots, celery etc.; you could do it after you add the other vegetables (as long as they are chopped relatively small as you don’t want big chunks of vegetables in your burgers).
I then combine the hot drained lentils with the oatmeal, cover with plastic wrap, and either refrigerate to complete the next day or let sit on the counter for at least a half hour so that the oatmeal is softened by the hot lentils. The picture above right shows that this mixture will be relatively dry. So after the half hour I stir the mixture again and taste to see if I need more cayenne or salt. (Note: if you are doing this the next day, microwave the lentil oatmeal mixture for about 30 seconds and stir as it will be really stiff and needs to be softened slightly). I then add 1 egg, about 1 teaspoon of ground sage (I feel the sage is a must for the success of the recipe), 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. Make sure all is blended well.
Heat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Form burgers…from the 1/2 cup of oatmeal and 1 and 1/2 cups of lentils that I mentioned above, I get four good sized burgers. See how they look to the left. They should hold their shape well. If they don’t, add a touch more oatmeal or even a little breadcrumbs. Bake for about 15 minutes and then turn over for another 10 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.
I like my burger either on a salad plate or on a toasted roll with lettuce, tomato and onion with a touch of mayonnaise. Once cooked, these burgers refrigerate well for a couple of days.