It’s fine, don’t worry about me, I’ll just have salad and bread… It’s a phrase known well by many non-meat eaters when faced with a weekend BBQ in Australia. Barbequing here generally consists of steaks, sausages, a bit more steak, another sausage, and maybe some chops.
No, we don’t generally ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ [and even if we did we'd call them prawns and they'd probably still have the heads on] and while there is always a pile of white bread or rolls and perhaps some iceberg or a few tomato slices to dress up the meat fest, options tend to be limited for the non-carnivorously inclined.
So what to do? I am – truthfully – just fine with a plate of salad and bread on most occasions, and in-attendance for the company more than the food, but sometimes… sigh…
Sometimes I want to flip a savory, rich burger off the BBQ and stack it sky high with crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, creamy avocado and tangy sauce. I want to take a very un-ladylike bite that requires at least a demure pat with a napkin, and at best a wet towel, to remove the carnage from my face. I don’t want to make a fuss, but sometimes I want more than just salad and bread at a barbeque.
But there’s plenty of pre-made veggie burgers out there, I hear you saying. Blerg. For starters most of them have soy and I try to avoid soy. The ones that don’t are full of other fillers and oil and while they are ok in a pinch, they’re not particularly healthy and don’t taste nearly enough like ice cream to justify all the fat and calories.
So when I was approached by Australian Mushroom Growers to take part in their Summer Mushrooms campaign this year there was no question as to what I would create – a proper burger, worthy of a barbeque with all the fixings, and tasty enough to tempt even the meatiest meat eaters.
Conveniently, I do love mushrooms. Garlicky and spiked with a splash of white wine, they’re a required side on our weekend brunch plates. Mushrooms make an easy pizza topping for dinner, a hearty risotto for lunch, a moreish vegan BLT, and my fave – a big bowl of Japanese soba with no less than 5 kinds of wild mushrooms. They vary in texture and flavour and suit so many cooking styles – and as an added bonus are the only non-animal food source of Vitamin D. Phew!
Now I have been know to get my burger craving sorted with a hearty whole portobello that’s been marinated in red wine and herbs then grilled, but I find that they can be a bit more suited to having a fork and knife nearby for when the juices take over and the bun disintegrates in your hands.
However this fabulous creation with mushrooms, lentils and plenty of umami is a little bit different – and it certainly hit the spot. The only thing that would have made it better are some sauteed mushrooms and shiitake bacon on top – a triple mushroom threat if you will…
Needless to say the next time we go to a barbeque I’ll BYO-Mushrooms and will have something to eat with all that bread and salad – don’t worry, I’ll bring a few extras to share!
Have you made plans for Australia Day yet and will there be a BBQ involved?
Mushroom & Lentil Burgers – Vegan, Gluten Free
Grilled mushroom ‘burgers’ are good, lentil burgers are fine, but when the two are combined the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts! Don’t skimp on the seasonings here, that umami richness that many veggie burgers lack… this one puts them all to shame. Don’t be afraid to pre-cook the burgers and simply re-heat on the bbq when it’s time to feast.
- 2 c cooked lentils – green and/or french green*, drained
- 170g swiss brown or baby portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- pinch chilli flakes, optional
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds + 3 Tbsp hot water
- 1 tsp vegemite* + 2 tsp hot water
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
Cook 1 cup of dried lentils with 4 c water for 30 mins. Drain, measure out 2 c and mash roughly with a fork. Saute onion and garlic 7 mins, add herbs and mushrooms, saute 5 mins, stir into mashed lentils.
Mix chia seeds & water, vegemite & water and add to mushroom mixture with remaining ingredients. Remove half the mixture and puree until smooth. Mix back in and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Form 6 patties and either brown in a pan for 5-7 mins on each side, or bake at 200C [400F] for 10 mins, flip and bake a further 10 mins.
Serve any way you choose. Can be pre-cooked and re-heated on a bbq.
Combine 1 c dried lentils with 4 c water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes until soft. Drain well and cool slightly.
Measure out 2 c of the cooked lentils into a large bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Use remaining 1 1/2 c or so for another purpose.
In a large saucepan over medium low heat, saute onion, garlic and salt in a splash of olive oil for 5-7 minutes until onions are soft and just golden. Add diced mushrooms, dried herbs and chili flakes and saute a further 5 minutes until soft. Tip into bowl with mashed lentils and stir to combine well.
Combine chia seeds and hot water in a small bowl and allow to thicken for 30 seconds. Add vegemite and additional hot water and stir to dissolve any lumps. Add to mushroom/lentil mixture along with mustard, flax seed & parsley. Stir well.
Remove half the mixture and puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth, mix back into un-pureed portion. Refrigerate for 60 minutes to firm up and meld flavours.
Divide chilled mixture into 6* balls and form into patties, approx 1 1/2 cm thick. Patties can be cooked on the stovetop or baked in the oven, the choice is up to you.
To bake: Preheat oven to 200C [400F], lightly spray a non-stick sheet pan with oil. Form patties and move on to sheet with a large spatula. Bake for 10 mins, flip carefully and bake a further 10 mins. Allow to cool 5 mins on tray.
To cook on a stovetop: Preheat a non-stick pan on medium-low heat, lightly spray pan with oil. Form patties and move on to pan with a large spatula. Cook for 7 mins, flip carefully and cook a further 5-7 mins. Move carefully onto a rack if not eating immediately. Patties will firm up as they cool.
Layer on your bun of choice with lettuce, tomato, garlic mushrooms, avocado, cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo, bacon, shiitake bacon, sriracha, mayo, cashew aioli [recipe coming soon!], bbq sauce and/or plain old ketchup. Not a bun person, use the burgers to top a salad or eat it cold out of the fridge while standing in the middle of the kitchen… not that I do that or anything, ahem.
Makes 6 medium size patties. Burgers can be made ahead of time and re-heated on a bbq or in a pan.
- Lentils: a combination of half Green Lentils and half French Green Lentils give a nice texture mix and they cook in the same amount of time. You could use canned lentils if you wish but the burgers may not be quite the same colour.
- Vegemite: the ultimate umami addition. If you can’t get Vegemite or a similar product [Marmite etc] substitute the 1 tsp vegemite* + 2 tsp hot water with 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste + 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari.
- Patties: if you want large burgers divide mixture into 4 or 5 portions, for small burgers divide mixture into 7 or 8 portions, easy.
While the creation of this recipe is sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of their Summer Mushrooms campaign, the opinions expressed – including my slight obsession with mushrooms – are all mine. For more mushroom recipes pop over to the My Mushrooms blog.