Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meaty Meatless Burgers

Let me start out by saying: I am not a vegetarian. But, I'm pretty darn close.

This can sometimes make me feel a little out of place among fellow homesteaders. A big part of homesteading is to become as self-sufficient as one is comfortable with. This often includes raising meat animals, even in urban settings (this became crystal clear to me after reading Farm City, a book I adore but that made me squirm just a bit when it came to the animals, I won't lie. Novella Carpenter is badass, that's all I can say).

I love animals and I don't like to see or think of them suffering. But, I am respectful of homesteaders and farmers who make the choice to raise meat animals. Small-scale meat raising tends to involve a lot of respect, gratitude, and happy animals. At least, that's what I've been reading, especially in books like Jenna (*hero alert*) Woginrich's Cold Antler Farm. I have no qualms about eating animals who lived peaceful, happy lives and were killed humanely.

However, true sources of happy (and healthy) meat are hard to come by. I don't raise my own, and though I did find a great farm near me, it's still over a 30 minute drive from our house, and the meat is pricey (as it should be).

My current philosophy, since we don't raise our own meat, is this:  avoid supermarket meat from factory farms, find and buy humane meat when possible, and the rest of the time...just go without meat. Simple.

The family used to go into panic mode without daily meat, and claimed to be 'meatatarians', and I, being the borderline full-time vegetarian, was torturing them. In time, though, since I'm the sole willing cook around here, they got used to this new, lighter-on-the-meat way of eating. We eat meals without any meat at least 3 times a week, if not more. In fact, we have all discovered that there are MANY meatless meals that we love.

I have a longer blogpost brewing about my complicated relationship with meat-eating, how as a family we made the adjustment to eating less of it, and how I am ultimately coming to a place of peace over the whole dang issue. Stay tuned for that post...

...and in the meantime, try this meatless burger. It' family approved!

I've tried dozens of recipes, but not all meatless burgers are created equally. For the record: I love most veggie burger recipes; the family doesn't necessarily. For instance, I really love these beet burgers, found in this book, and I mean LOVE them, but the family can not bear them (thus, I make and freeze them for myself, to enjoy when I want).

I have lots of my own personal faves, but the recipe I'm sharing here is a little more 'meaty' with flavors everyone approves of.

Recipes like these are why I grow parsley--so nice to have fresh herbs
on hand during the growing season

Little helpers love to come to the herb garden to get things we need to cook

Recipes like these are why I grow parsley, to have some on hand at all times!

I gravitate toward really simple recipes, and though this one seems to have a lot of ingredients, it's really not very complicated, promise. You can make it ahead and refrigerate or freeze for later. :)

Meaty Meatless Burgers                     Print Recipe
adapted from

1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. dried lentils (can use 1.5 c. canned)
1 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. grated carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste (see my tomato paste tip here)
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
3/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. chili powder
3/4 t. salt
3/4 c. cooked barley
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh parsley (or 2 T. dried)
1/2 t. pepper
2 eggs

1. If using canned lentils, drain and rinse 1.5 cups and proceed with recipe. If using dry, place lentils with the water in a saucepan; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and place half of them into a large bowl. Place the other half of the lentils in a food processor or small food chopper (like the Magic Bullet --truly an indispensable tool in my kitchen!); process until mostly smooth. If the lentils won't grind up, add a t. or two of water, and don't worry if you can't get them completely smooth. Add processed lentils to whole lentils in bowl.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a couple teaspoons of coconut or olive oil, and add the onion and carrot. Saute for 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly and breaking the tomato paste up with your stirring spoon. Add onion mixture to lentils. Add salt, barley and remaining ingredients; stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

3. Divide mixture into 1/2 c. portions to make 5 large patties, or divide the mixture into 8 equal portions for smaller patties (I like doing it both ways. Smaller patties don't fill a bun as well, but they are crispier). Shape and press into patties. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet (I use the same skillet I used to cook the ingredients earlier) and cook the patties in the oil for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until browned to your liking. We like them really brown and crispy on the outsides.

4. Enjoy like you would any burger!

*This recipe freezes beautifully, 'raw' or frozen.

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  1. This sounds SO good! Just pinned it to try it out soon!

    1. Thank you, Caitlin! I hope you like them! Don't forget to get a nice good crisp on the outsides of them while good that way! :)

  2. I will try this one for sure. We love meatless burgers. I make one with whatever beans or lentils i have on hand at the moment. My favorite way to eat them is to wrap with lots of avocado sauce. perfect. I guess I can leave out barley in it right?

    1. Ooh, avocado, yes!!! You can leave out the barley and sub a different bean, or even rice. I love that veggie burgers are so versatile. I have another top favorite recipe that I'll have to get written up, but really, much of the time a recipe is not even needed! :)