Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Burgers with Lentils and Kale

I've been pretty lucky with discovering new favorites lately, most recently with the discovery my new favorite veggie burger. Although I'm willing to deal with less than ideal structural integrity for great flavor, this burger leaves me wanting for neither and is probably the sturdiest veggie burger I've ever made. I've adored the combination of sweet potatoes and garam masala since I made these fries, those flavors beautifully uniting with savory lentils and hearty kale in this delicious veggie burger. Every co-worker of mine who has walked past my desk during lunch has commenting on the amazing aroma, so I  know it's not just me inticed with this perfect melange of veggies and spices. It's easy to get a little bored with veggie burgers when eating one for lunch everyday, but this burger remains a delightful treat for the senses each time I pluck one from my lunch bag. If you've been watching the steady stream of veggie burger recipes on this website lately, but haven't yet jumped in, try this recipe. It may require quite a bit of time in the kitchen, but your effort will be rewarded many times over and make vegetarian eating a real pleasure.

Sweet Potato Burgers with Lentils and Kale
from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
makes six 4-inch burgers

3/4 cup French (green) lentils
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed
1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup almond meal

1. Pick through the lentils and rinse thoroughly. Bring the lentils and at least 3 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and then transfer lentils to a large mixing bowl. Coarsely mash them with a potato masher.

2. Meanwhile, steam the kale: Place the kale in a steaming basket set in a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water, cover, and steam for 5 to 8 minutes, until completely tender. Remove the kale. When cool enough to handle, wrap in a clean kitchen cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Finely chop and set aside.

3. Place the sweet potato in the steaming basket, adding more water if necessary. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potato is completely tender. Add the potato to the lentil, mashing thoroughly with a fork or potato masher.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

5. In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garam masala, curry powder, and cayenne and cook until the onion is translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chopped kale and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing to combine. If a crust has formed on the base of the pan, add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.

6. Mix the kale-onion mixture into the lentil mixture. Stir in the eggs, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Fold in the bread crumbs and almond meal. Adjust seasonings. Shape into 6 patties.

7. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through.

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