Hippies. That’s what I used to think of when I thought of lentil burgers. They reminded me of living in Eugene, Oregon, which was nice. They reminded me of patchouli oil, which is not. And so, I never used to eat them. But ever since I actually tasted a lentil burger, they only remind me of all that is delicious and healthful about lentils. Lentils are considered one of the five healthiest foods on the planet, with high levels of protein, fiber, iron and folate (natural-occurring folic acid).

mmm... lentil burgers...

Jonny and I first made lentil burgers a couple months ago, after I finally overcame a bizarre intolerance to legumes that I’d internalized during grad school. I was eating vegetarian at the time, and as soon as I knew I wouldn’t blow up if I ate lentils, I wanted to eat them daily.

Very little effort — and cash — is required to make such a yummy alternative to the meaty meat burger. If you can boil water and sauté a few veg in a pan, you can master this recipe. This recipe makes enough for 6 burgers for £3.11! I worked out the amounts as follows: 36p for green lentils (£1.78/kg); 15p for spinach (£1.05/kg); 50p for mushrooms (£2.85/kg); 10p for onion (99p/kg); 5p for garlic (33p/bulb); 20p for chili (69p/50g); 50p for spices; £1.25 for bread rolls. That leaves change for a small jar of spiced tomato chutney, highly recommended over plain ol’ ketchup.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can make it with all different kinds of veg and spice. Lentils hold together really well without adding any binding agent (eggs), so as long as you don’t add slimy drippy veg to the mix, your options are endless! I made six mega-burgers with this recipe. You can probably stretch this to eight if you’re feeding smaller appetites.

Spinach Mushroom Lentil Burgers

200g green lentils
1 small white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red chili, minced
8-10 mushrooms (about 200g), diced
150g frozen spinach, defrosted
3-5 tbsp curry powder
cayenne pepper (optional)
garlic salt (optional)
salt and pepper

Boil lentils until really soft, about 30 mins. Heat a splash of oil and sauté onions, garlic and chili pepper until fragrant, 2-3 mins. Add mushrooms, spinach, 1/2 tbsp curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6-7 mins. Set aside. Drain lentils and mash them in a large bowl with 3 tbsp curry powder, a pinch each of cayenne and garlic salt (if you want) and salt and pepper. When lentils are almost fully mashed to a paste, add the spinach mushroom mixture and more spices to your liking, then mash a few more times until fully incorporated. As soon as the mixture has cooled enough for you to handle it you can form the burger patties. Remember, these won’t shrink up like normal meaty burgers, so make them exactly the size you want… shape them to fit your rolls! Heat a teeny bit of oil in a pan on med-high heat and cook the burgers, covered, until they’re browned on both sides and heated through. Serve on toasted rolls with a spicy tomato chutney and salad leaf.

And for all you hippies out there, if you serve this without a bun, it’s totally vegan and gluten free ; )