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By the Book: Wendy Polisi’s Lentil, Chickpea & Quinoa Burger with Cilantro Garlic Cream

March 27th 12:03pm, 2012

When you’ve become weary of standard starches like rice, pasta and potatoes, it’s time to go against the grain with, well, a different sort of grain. In her new cookbook, The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook, author Wendy Polisi demonstrates that one such atypical grain, quinoa, can be put to work in myriad tasty and healthful dishes. Always on the lookout for a flavorful veggie burger, I opted to prepare Polisi’s recipe for a Lentil, Chickpea & Quinoa Burger with Cilantro Garlic Cream.

Apart from quinoa, the recipe calls for ingredients that most home cooks already have on hand. And for those who regularly cook and then freeze large batches of legumes, this recipe will come together quickly, since the quinoa, garbanzos and lentils must all be cooked before the patties can be assembled.

One of my gripes with some veggie burgers is that the mixture is bland and bready. Polisi’s mix is flavorful thanks to a sauteed onion (I used a very large onion) as well as fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley. Having a penchant for all things fresh, I wasn’t keen on using garlic powder as the recipe directed. (In fact, I had to go out and buy some since I don’t stock it among my spices.) And now that I’ve tasted the burger mix following Polisi’s instructions, I don’t think that substituting freshly minced garlic for the powdery stuff would do the recipe any harm.

The recipe doesn’t indicate the number of servings that the mixture yields. I made 9 patties of a size that would fill a standard hamburger bun. The patties formed easily when shaped, feeling neither wet nor dry – and bound together very well despite using only one egg.

When frying, you’ll need more than the prescribed tablespoon of olive oil. Otherwise, the burger will to stick to the pan. Instead, I used 2 tablespoons per batch of 4 patties. While the recipe didn’t mention anything about flattening the patties a bit with a spatula while they fry, I did so anyway. In my experience with veggie burgers, skipping this step results in a patty that’s crisp on the outside but utter mush inside.

Toppings are what turn a veggie burger into something more than a bunch of ground up, fried up grains and legumes. The cilantro-garlic cream is a cinch to make, but it does want a few pinches of salt. One of my taste testers also suggested a splash of lemon to brighten things up. I piled pea shoots and avocado on my bun and wished I’d had pickled red onions for more color and zing. The final verdict: This veg burger recipe is solid. A tweak to the cream sauce, some thoughtful toppings and you’ve got a tasty, meatless alternative to the all-American beef classic.

Lentil, Chickpea & Quinoa Burger with Cilantro Garlic Cream

Note: The original recipe did not include serving size, but I made 9 hamburger-sized patties.

¾ cup green lentils
Olive oil spray
1 onion, chopped fine (Note: I used a very large onion)
¾ cup cooked quinoa *(See preparation below.)
1½ cup cooked chickpeas
1 egg
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 cups breadcrumbs
½ tsp. mineral salt
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. olive oil (Note: I used 5 Tbsp. olive oil)

Cilantro-Garlic Cream
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
(Note: I added a few pinches of salt, to taste)

• Heat 1½ cups of water to a boil. Add lentils and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat olive oil spray and a pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 8 minutes.
• Put chickpeas, quinoa, half of the lentils, the egg and the onion into a food processor and process until smooth.
• In a medium bowl, combine parsley, cilantro, breadcrumbs, remaining half of the lentils and the seasonings. Add the chickpea mixture and stir until well combined.
• Form patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
• Meanwhile, make the Cilantro Garlic Cream by combining yogurt, garlic, cilantro and parsley. Refrigerate until ready to use.
• Preheat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add burgers and cook for 8 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
• Top with Cilantro Garlic Cream and serve!

* To cook quinoa, put 2 parts water and 1 part quinoa in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

Make it vegan: In place of egg, mix together 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons water. For cream sauce, soak 1 cup cashews in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in blender and add water to cover. Add in garlic, cilantro and parsley. Process until smooth.

Tell us about your favorite veggie burger in town in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Cherie, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a copy of Rustic Italian Food. Cherie, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew!

By Ligaya Figueras

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10 Responses to “By the Book: Wendy Polisi’s Lentil, Chickpea & Quinoa Burger with Cilantro Garlic Cream”

  1. April Morrison Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    My favorite veggie burger is the Sweet Burger at SweetArt. It is amazing! It’s the perfect balance of spice and textures. And it’s so big you can barely wrap your mouth around it!

  2. Shannon Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Best veggie burger is at Local Harvest – burger is delicious, yummy toppings, and the bread they use is really good too. Perfect combo!

  3. katy Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Sweet art! Mmmmm.

  4. Dale Beauchamp Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Definitely the veggie burger from Sweet Art. If you polish one of those off, you better get a to go box for those cupcakes, you won’t be having them for a few hours.

  5. caryn Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Looks pretty terrific! Easy to veganize, too. Wondering about baking the patties and them either hitting them with a quick broil or pan sear for the crisp outside – all in an effort to omit all the oil. Hmmm…..

    I am currently conducting The STL Vegan Burger Tour – the twist? An omnivore is also giving an opinion. http://stlveggirl.tumblr.com/STL%20Vegan%20Burger%20Tour

    So far, The Royale gets my thumbs up, but that burger at The Crow’s Nest is pretty interesting, too.

  6. Erin Rohr Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    My favorite Veggie Burger is at Barrister’s in Clayton

  7. Beth Grant Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I’m in love with the one at The Crow’s Nest, it inspired me to try making my own at home. I’ve tried two versions, one with cannellini beans, and one with black beans and broccoli. They both came out fabulously!

  8. Jill Jordan Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I like the Veggie Burger at Square One Brewery–not only is it DELICIOUS on it’s own, but Tuesday nights it starts at $4 and you add your toppings to make it into whatever you’d like it to be. Who COULDN’T like that!?

  9. Cherie Says:
    March 29th, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks, Sauce! I like the veggie burger at Hamburger Mary’s!

  10. Sauce Magazine Blog » Blog Archive » By the Book: crab cakes Says:
    April 3rd, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    [...] now, we’d like to congratulate Jill, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a copy of The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook. Jill, keep an eye out [...]

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