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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Plant Burger: Revisited

Over the holidays, twelve hungry people found themselves in need of a lunch. My aunt left it up to my eight-year old niece, Hana, to decide our fate. Hana typically selects the Soup Plantation, a classic favorite of hers since she was little, but this time she opted for Islands. Oddly enough, my meat-loving brother (Hana's dad) tells me that his favorite thing to get there is their housemade veggie burger. I was totally shocked by his enthusiasm over this veggie burger. I went along and ordered it, finding myself pleasantly surprised by its cheesy nutty flavor. Besides the lentil walnut burger, I haven't made too many other veggie burgers at home. (This is mostly due to the fact that I usually cling to a simple lettuce, tomato, bread-and-butter pickle sandwich with vegenaise). But I wanted to revisit my standby veggie burger.

I decided that the time had come to revamp this recipe for my favorite veggie burger from the Plant Cafe. You good people have been cooking up this recipe and sending me all sorts of emails of how much you love this burger. So, I wanted to make it better.

And I did.
I had been wondering if cooking the lentils and bulgur would be better than soaking it, so I tried it both ways, tweaked it a little more and worked out some kinks. First, I should clarify that the old recipe listed post-soaked quantities of lentils and bulgur, which is more conducive to a restaurant that can make larger quantities. So, I wanted to rewrite the recipe to make use of all of the soaked lentils and bulgur.

Soaking proved to be the winning method because cooking the lentils created a mushy texture. After soaking the lentils for 4-6 hours, the lentils will have a texture akin to water chestnuts (it might taste a little raw and starchy, but this will cook out). The lentils nearly double in size and release some starch, so you will want to drain them and give the lentils a little rinse. I also decided to slightly increase the salt and use unsalted roasted cashews instead of raw cashews to enhance the flavor.

I also discovered that the patties hold up better if you shape them and then refrigerate them for 1-2 hours. This allows some of the moisture to evaporate so it doesn't turn into mush when you cook it. Finally, as any restaurant chef would attest, you cannot be shy with the oil when cooking the patties. You only flip this once so you need a good amount of fat and a hot skillet or griddle to really make this work.This recipe makes 8-10 patties, which may seem like a lot, but it makes such a colossal mess in the kitchen that I recommend just making a big batch and freezing the patties for later use.


* 2/3 c. quick cooking wheat bulgur (measure dry and then soak in water for 4-6 hours)
* 3/4 c. dry red lentils (measure dry and then soak in water for 4-6 hours)
* 2/3 c. raw cashews (blended into a powder)
* 2 cups beets, washed
* 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
* 1.5 tsp. sea salt
* 4 Tbsp. olive oil


* Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
* Place the beets in a 9 x 13 pan, add a cup or so of water and cover it with foil and bake the beets for about 45-60 minutes or until very tender.
* Allow beets to cool slightly, then peel off skin and discard the root.
* Dice the beets and set aside.
* In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and sautee the mushrooms over medium-high heat until cooked (you can add a sprinkle of water if needed since the mushrooms will instantly soak up the olive oil).
* In a food processor, pulse the cashews into a medium fine powder.
*Add the beets, sauteed mushrooms, lentils, bulgur, and sea salt and blend until combined.
* Form mixture into 8 burger patties. Place them on a tray lined with wax paper and refrigerate them for 1-2 hours before cooking.
* When ready to cook the burgers, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet or griddle on medium high heat. Cook burgers for about 5 minutes on each side, but try not flip more than once to avoid burgers falling apart.

Serve on grilled sourdough bread or buns with your favorite toppings!


Sonia said...

Hi! I just found your blog! Those burgers look awesome- I loooove beets so much and pink is my favorite color- I'm definitely going to make those. Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

what a unique recipe! great idea here

Kate Lumsden said...

Morgan! thanks a million for posting this recipe! i have an ayurvedic recipe blog where I just posted my version of this recipe and added a link to yours, so hopefully you'll get a couple visitors from my way. Thanks again!

Rebecca said...

Thanks for sharing! I made it last night and its definitely pretty close to their veggie burger. Very tasty.
Any idea what spices they use though?? I feel like its missing something and can't figure out what spice it is....

Morgan Lee said...

I am not sure what spices the Plant cafe uses, but I will continue to play with the spicing when I make it again. It tastes fairly garlicky to me, but that could just be the garlic aioli they use, which uses vegenaise as a base.

Ally said...

Thank you for sharing your recipe, Morgan! I was at Plant Cafe on Sunday and asked if they'd share, but alas, no luck. However, I was told that they add soy sauce to their veganaise, which is added to the burger mixture as a binder. Bummer for those that are allergic to soy, like me. So your recipe is a treasure. All the best to you!

Morgan Lee said...

Thanks, Ally! Lately I have been crumbling these burgers on top of my salads!

Kelly said...

Loved these burgers! I would add garlic or another spice next time for additional flavor, but THANKS for sharing!
Any idea of the caloric breakdown??
I also added carmelized onions and avocado when I served them on grilled sourdough! FABULOUS and even my boyfriend loved them!

Morgan Lee said...

I am so glad you like them! It's a bit finicky to make, but so worth it. Here is a link to an estimate on nutritional facts:

Anonymous said...

Hi Morgan, do you know about how many cups the soaked barley equates to.


Morgan Lee said...

No, I measure out the bulgur when dry and then just put all of it in, so I have not measured it post soaking. Sorry!

Mindy harris said...

Are the beets measured before or after dicing? 2cups beets could be very different measured one way or the other. I can't wait to try this recipe!

Morgan Lee said...

The beets should be diced before measuring!

Senu said...

Do you measure the cashews then grind or grind then measure?

Morgan Lee said...

I measure the cashews whole and then grind them! Good luck!