I make these vegan lentil burgers when I want to eat a bit lighter, but crave something that feels indulgent and hearty. They are also great for barbecues, of course. I’m finding more and more than my friends, even those who are meat-eaters, sometimes want a different option. I skip the bread and keep the traditional lettuce and tomato garnishes – and often a pickle, too – but it goes without saying that these are also great on buns.
A lot of people have misconceptions about vegan food. Just because the ingredient list is a little more limited doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor. The emphasis on vegetables and plant-based products brings a freshness and lightness that you can really taste. These burgers are packed with mushrooms, lentils, and fresh thyme for a delicious earthy flavor. To make mini burgers, see the cook’s note.
Lentil Burgers with Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise
For the Burgers:
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots minced
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 4 ounces button mushrooms about 6, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup frozen petite green peas thawed
- 2 15-ounce cans lentils, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup plus ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons egg-free mayonnaise such as Vegenaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise:
- 1 cup refrigerated egg-free mayonnaise such as Vegenaise
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 head butter lettuce leaves separated
- 2 plum tomatoes thinly sliced
For the burgers:
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat ¼ cup of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, ¾ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a food processor, puree the peas and half of the lentils until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining lentils, 1/3 cup of the cornmeal, the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and the mushroom mixture. Form the mixture into 6 (3-inch-thick) patties.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup of the remaining cornmeal on a baking sheet. Put the formed patties on top of the cornmeal. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup cornmeal on top of the patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the remaining ¼ cup oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until golden brown, 4 minutes per side.
For the lemon-basil mayonnaise:
- In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, basil, and lemon zest until smooth. Smear the mayonnaise on the lentil burgers. Serve over the lettuce and tomato slices.