Fact: I take great joy in making dinner out of nothing. You know those days when there’s really no food in the house, but you still manage to make something that counts as a real meal?
So I love it. Like, a lot.
These lentil feta burgers are in that category. If you came over today to peek in the fridge, you wouldn’t be too impressed.
We’ve got some rice and barley (I keep them in the fridge once they’re sorted), half a melon, a container of cottage cheese, and the sole remaining slice of pizza from yesterday’s recipe testing. The freezer has a batch of challah, some itty-bitty rye rolls, and about a month’s worth of soup for Friday nights. Not much more.
Except, of course, for the bits and pieces that make up this miraculous something-from-nothing recipe.
Red lentils fall apart when they’re cooked, which makes them an excellent candidate for thickening up soups or acting as the base of a burger. What they don’t have is a whole lot of natural flavor — but that’s where the sauteed onion and garlic, scallions, homemade ketchup, feta cheese, and spices come in.
And between all of that and a nice lil’ bun and whatever vegetables are lying around, well, you’ve got yourself one mean sandwich.
Hamburgers. Who needs them?
One year ago: Peanut noodle salad
Inspired by Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker
Yield: About 14 slider-sized burgers
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 3-4 scallions, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp table salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup cubed feta cheese
- Canola oil, for frying
1. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils. Turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
2. Sauté onion and garlic until soft and just starting to brown.
3. Add eggs to the lentils to soften them before adding everything else. Mix very well, then add onion, garlic, ketchup, bread crumbs, scallions, and seasonings. Mix until well combined, then gently stir in feta cubes (so they don’t fall apart).
4. Heat canola oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, starting with about 3 Tbsp of oil and adding throughout the frying as needed. Grease a quarter-cup measuring cup and scoop some of the burger mixture into it. Tap it face-down, carefully and gently, against the side of the frying pan so the mixture falls into the pan. Press mixture down with a fork to finish forming the burger shape, and cook on each side over low heat until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes per side.
5. Transfer burgers to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Serve hot/warm in a bun with extra feta and ketchup and veggies of your choice.
Notes (added Feb. 6, 2015):
Don’t have feta? You can use another cheese, but because feta is pretty salty, you may need to increase the salt if you use a different cheese.
To bake the burgers: Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it lightly with oil (olive or canola). Tap the burgers onto the sheet (placing them close together is fine) and use a pastry brush — silicone is my favorite — to brush the tops with oil. Bake 20 minutes, flip, brush the second side with oil, and bake another 20 minutes.
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