Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lentil and Veggie Burgers

Earlier this week Rose over at Dandelion made a nut roast. Oddly enough I have never either made or had a nut roast and I thought I should try to make one. My husband was not as certain this was a good idea. As we like to say here “it is all about my husband”, so I decided to let the nut roast wait until he is out of town for work.

The problem was I still wanted something similar to a nut roast so I made lentil burgers with sautéed veggies, wheat germ, sunflower seeds and oatmeal. In the interest of science I made half the batch with a little vital wheat gluten for added texture and half without the gluten.

I frequently add vital wheat gluten to my burgers for texture. Gluten doesn’t make the burgers like seitan it just makes them more firm so they hold together better and are easier to flip and stay on a sandwich or a fork. As I expected my husband preferred the version with gluten. The gluten free burgers had the same great flavor but were much more tender so that I had to be very careful when flipping them in the pan.

You may notice in this recipe I didn’t add any salt to the burger. This omission was intentional. The hot crushed peppers (also known as wet hots or hot pickled peppers) were added for acid and tang. I have found that when I add the hot crushed peppers to a dish I don’t need much if any salt in the dish.

Both the wheat germ and sunflower seeds were added for their phytosterol content. Phytosterols are thought to help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. As an added bonus sunflower seeds contain a nice amount of selenium also thought to stimulate the immune system, stimulate the bodies natural killer cells and therefore slow the spread of cancer.

With all this health talk you may be wondering what these burgers taste like. Well, they are quite tasty in addition to being good for you. If you don't tell your family they are healthy I don't think they will know.

Lentil and Veggie Burgers
Makes 8 burgers


1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed
4+ cups of water to cook lentils
½ red onion finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and finely diced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
¼ cup of water to water sauté the aromatics
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes so the allicin can develop)
½ tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw
1 cup oatmeal, dry
4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, optional – but helps the patties stay together and are firmer under the tooth


Cook the lentils in the water until they are very soft and mushy. You want the lentils to be extremely soft to help hold the burger together.

Make certain all the veggies are finely diced, about 1/8th of an inch. Water sauté the onions, pepper and celery until soft. Add the canola oil and garlic and cook a few minutes more. The oil is added with the garlic in an attempt to make the allicin in the garlic more bioavailable. After a couple of minutes add the tomato paste and cook another few minutes. Try to evenly distribute the tomato paste through out the vegetable mixture. Add the hot crushed peppers, wheat germ, sunflower seeds and oatmeal. Stir to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

If you are using the vital wheat gluten add it now and knead to evenly distribute the gluten. The burger mixture will still be soft but will hold together easily once the gluten has been added. If you choose not to add the gluten put the burger mixture into the refrigerator to chill. The cold mixture will hold together better than if it warm or room temperature. However if you use the gluten the temperature doesn’t matter.

Use a half-cup measure to portion the burger mix. This will result in 8 patties. Form the patties with your hands and set aside on a baking sheet lined with foil or wax paper.

Heat a cast iron pan with a light coating of canola oil and cook the burgers until brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side depending on how hot your stove is).

Nutritional Information per burger – without gluten:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 125.57
Calories From Fat (27%) - 33.59

Total Fat - 3.96g
Saturated Fat - 0.41g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 56.93mg
Potassium - 340.83mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.67g
Fiber - 5.1g
Sugar - 2.36g
Protein - 5.79g

Nutritional Information per burger – with gluten:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 140.01
Calories From Fat (24%) - 34.24

Total Fat - 4.03g
Saturated Fat - 0.42g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 58.06mg
Potassium - 344.73mg
Total Carbohydrates - 19.21g
Fiber - 5.12g
Sugar - 2.36g
Protein - 8.72g


Both my husband and I preferred the burgers with the vital wheat gluten. However the plain version of the burger is also good, just much more tender. The burgers were good with the Catalina French dressing I made yesterday.

Each one of these burgers has over 12mcg of selenium, which I also like. Anytime I can make something that is packed with nutrition that also tastes good I am a very happy camper.


  1. So, you didn't go for the nut loaf...these look good though. Interesting point about the crushed peppers, in the same way, I've often thought that adding lemon juice adds a tang to food and reduces the need for salt.

  2. Rose,

    The hubby (who also hasn't had nut loaf before) was skeptical of the nut loaf concept. I plan to make a nut burger next and when he likes that then move to a nut loaf. Baby steps..... I had to do the same thing with tofu and now he likes it.

    I agree with you on the lemon juice. Sometimes I use lemon juice, vinegar, or dry wine when I think a dish needs a "spark" and want to keep the salt level down. It works exactly the same way as the pickled peppers. My theory is that it is the acid that brightens the flavor.


  3. Jeni,

    These were really good. Even the omnivores liked them. I used more veg in these than normal and with the hot crushed peppers I think that made the difference.


  4. These do look good. Looks like you had a busy day- lots of cooking!

  5. Debra,

    I did spend a little time in the kitchen yesterday. Weekends are like that frequently at my house.

    These burgers had more veggies (proportionately) compared to my usual varieties and I think that made them better. I know it increased the nutrition.



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