Lentil and vegetable burgers with kumara and potato wedges: old fashioned and enjoyable.

Lentil and vegetable burgers with kumara and potato wedges: old fashioned and enjoyable. Photo: Colleen Petch

It is fun to make your own vegie burgers and they are bound to be nicer than any you can buy. You can chose the ingredients yourself and make them as you like.

The recipe today is only a guide to get you started. There are also many other way to make up the burgers. I make them little a differently each time. The main thing is to get the consistency right so they don't fall apart. Making vegie burgers is a great way to use up leftover vegetables and pulses.

These quantities make quite a lot of patties so cook them all and tuck some away in the fridge or freezer for another day. You can make the mixture up into smaller patties to serve in different ways if you like.

Kumara and potato wedges, to go with lentil burgers.

Kumara and potato wedges, to go with lentil burgers. Photo: Colleen Petch

Serve your vegie burgers with chunky oven-baked kumara and potato chips.

LENTIL AND VEGETABLE BURGERS

Makes 8 burger patties

1 cup common green lentils and 1 bay leaf

1 large potato (about 250g) or sweet potato

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 zucchini, grated

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped

1 free-range egg, lightly beaten (optional)

½ cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs or rolled oats

1 tsp each toasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds

pinch of cayenne

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tsp soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp tomato ketchup or 2 tsp tomato paste

dried breadcrumbs or wholemeal flour as needed

For the burgers

bread rolls

avocado or mayonnaise

lettuce

cheese

tomatoes

pickled beetroot

seeded mustard and tomato sauce

Cook the lentils in plenty of water (no salt) with the bay leaf for about 30 minutes until tender. Cook the potato in salted water, or steam above the lentils. Drain the lentils (keeping quarter of a cup of the liquid) and mash or pulse chop in food processor. Mash the potato and mix with the lentils. Season well.

Use a food processor to chop the onion, garlic and parsley and grate the carrot and zucchini (if using). Squeeze the water out of the zucchini thoroughly. Fry the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft and golden. Add the carrot, zucchini, parsley and thyme and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the vegie mixture to the lentils and potato.

Now add the egg to bind (if using), the breadcrumbs or rolled oats, spices, seasoning and sauces and combine. If the mixture is too dry (unlikely), add a dash of lentil water or if too wet add some dried breadcrumbs or wholemeal flour. Rest the mixture in the fridge for an hour or so. It is a good idea to taste the mixture at this stage. Make a little patty and fry in olive oil; then taste and adjust the mixture as needed.

Use a half cup measure to scoop out the lentil mixture to form the burger patties or use a quarter cup measure for smaller patties. Pat them into shape with wet hands. Rest the patties in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes if you can.

The patties can be coated in flour before frying if you wish. Heat a film of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the patties and fry for a few minutes until golden brown, turn carefully and brown the other side. When nearly done, place the slices of cheese (if using) on top to melt.

The burger patties can be baked in a 200C oven if you prefer. Brush with olive oil and place on a lined tray. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and golden brown, turning half way.

To assemble

Split and toast the rolls and spread the bottom half with mashed avocado or mayonnaise. Place a couple of lettuce leaves on the roll and then a patty and slice of cheese, arrange the sliced tomato and beetroot on top of that. Add the condiments as you wish and finally the other half of the roll. You could also include in your vegie burger a fried egg, fresh or fried onion or alfalfa sprouts.

Variations

As a base for the patty mixture, use any pulse or a combination such as chickpeas, red or white kidney beans, pinto or borlotti beans, black beans or black-eyed beans either freshly cooked or from two cans. Try finely sliced spring onions instead of the fried onion. Chilli is good too.

Add some crunch to the burger mixture with lightly toasted and chopped walnuts, cashews or other nuts or seeds like sesame, sunflower or pepitas.

Cooked grains like brown rice or burgul are excellent in burgers, as is tofu. Add grated cheese for flavour and to bind. Sautéed mushrooms are a moist and tasty addition. Use any other cooked vegetables you like (but not too many) such as spinach, silver beet, beetroot, red pepper, pumpkin, broccoli, broad beans or peas. Experiment with other herbs, citrus zest, spices and condiments as you like.

OVEN-BAKED KUMARA AND POTATO CHIPS

1 kumara

3 medium potatoes

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 pinch of chilli flakes or paprika

1 pinch ground cumin

sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200C. Leave the skin on potatoes and kumara if you like; just wash them well and cut into chunky chip shapes. Toss the chips in the olive oil, chilli flakes or paprika and cumin. Spread out on an oven tray and roast high in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until brown at the edges and the potatoes are crispy. Turn after 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve.

Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, dlampe@bigpond.net.au