Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lentil Veggie Burger Sliders: A Little Bite of Mark Bittman

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs starts our six months of cooking with the always fabulous Mark Bittman. I love the man and his style of cooking--simple, delicious and with plenty of room and encouragement to adapt his recipes however you like. I also like his food philosophy--limiting (not eliminating) the amount of meat consumed, as well as reducing consumption of dairy, over-processed carbohydrates, and junk food. (Good for the planet and good for the body too). This week's IHCC theme is "Bites of Bittman" meaning appetizers, small plates, pupus, or whatever you like to call them. Since I always enjoy a mini-burger or slider, I thought some veggie sliders would be a fun little bite to enjoy.

I have been meaning to make some sort of veggie burgers from the more than ten pages on the subject in Bittman's comprehensive "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food." As is his style, Bittman offers tips and tricks for crafting the perfect veggie burger, some base recipes for different types of veggie burgers (bean burgers, nut burgers, vegetable burgers and tofu/soy burgers), and then gives suggestions for building on the base recipes to create varied and unique burgers. I decided to start with Bittman's The Simplest Bean Burgers recipe, choosing canned lentils as my base, and adding a bunch of additional ingredients--listed in red below.

The base recipe can be found in "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" on pages 660-661 or from Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" column at the New York Times website here.

Lentil Veggie Burger Sliders
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Time: 20 minutes, with cooked beans
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

2 cups well-cooked white, black or red beans, or chickpeas or lentils, or 1 14-ounce can, drained (I used 1 14-oz canned organic. low-sodium lentils)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder, or the spice mix of your choice (I used 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 tsp chipotle chili powder and 1 tsp ground coriander)
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tbsp cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
Bean-cooking liquid, stock or other liquid (wine, cream, milk, water or ketchup) if necessary
Extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn.

Combine all ingredients except liquid and oil (and sunflower seeds) in food processor and pulse until chunky but not puréed. (Add sunflower seeds and pulse another couple of times to break up seeds and mix them in) If necessary, add a little liquid for a mixture that is moist but not wet. Let mixture rest for a few minutes.

With wet hands, shape into patties and let rest again for a few minutes. (Burger mixture or shaped burgers can be covered tightly and refrigerated for up to a day. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.) Film bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet with oil and turn heat to medium. When hot, add patties. Cook undisturbed until browned, about 5 minutes; turn carefully with spatula and cook 3 or 4 minutes until firm and browned. (I made mine into about 2 & 1/2 to 3-inch patties)

Serve on buns with mustard, ketchup, chutney or other toppings. (I served mine on sandwich thins cut to fit, and topped them with lettuce, guacamole, carrot and cucumber slivers.)

Notes/Results: Yum! Why do miniature foods always taste some much better?! I was in the mood for something Mexican-inspired and had some guacamole to use up, so those were the flavors I played up in my spice mix. I liked Bittman's suggestions for add-ins and tried a few different ones--sunflower seeds for texture, fresh herbs and tomato paste for color and complexity, and garlic (do I really need to tell you why?) ;-) The result was perfect--crispy outside, soft and moist inside and a little texture and crunch from the sunflower seeds. The burgers held together well--easier with the smaller slider size of course, and they browned nicely at about 4 minutes per side over medium heat.

I ended up making 6 sliders with half of the mixture and saved the rest because a side bar in the book on using veggie burger mix as ground "meat" caught my eye. I cooked the remaining burger mix off, making crisp brown crumbles that I am planning to use in some veggie tacos this week.

Since it was a winner--quick, easy, and delicious, I will use the base recipe again--probably trying it with different beans and playing with the spices, trying some Indian and Thai flavors. I like making my own veggie burgers so much more than buying them--they are cheaper, fresher and I get control over the ingredients. Bittman gives enough suggestions and ideas for different burgers and combinations to keep me in veggie burger heaven for quite some time.

You can see what bites the other IHCC members cooked from Mark Bittman by going to the website here and following the links.


Don't forget to read my cookbook review and enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of a wonderful new cookbook: "The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook" by Amy Riolo. Filled with delicious recipes, this book is for everyone who loves good, healthy food.

You can get the details for how to enter here. (There are three different ways to enter for three chances to win!)

This giveaway is open to everyone and the deadline for entering is Monday, April 12th.


  1. You are updating too fast for me to keep up! Love the sliders. Everything definitely tastes better in mini form. I really need to get my hands on that tome of a cookbook!

  2. this sounds really good!

    love the word verification: capanked

  3. Nice job on those...I have never had luck forming patties if it's vegetable type ingredients...yours look fabulous. Quite healthy too :-)

  4. They look delicious Deb! I just love all the variations for these. You could literally make a different burger every time. Great idea to use the sandwich thins and cut them to fit;-)

  5. I agree with you on mini-foods! Big fan. I know of Mark Bittman as most foodies do, but I haven't really explored his style of cooking much. That is something I should learn more about.

    I love veggie burgers now that I'm discovering how to make them with beans and nuts. So much better than the processed veggie burgers from a frozen food section.

  6. These look wonderful, Deb. Mini portions are so easy to deal with. I wish there were more recipes for them on the web. I hope you have a great day...Mary

  7. oh what a fab healthy burger he has the best recipes

  8. Nice presentation.
    This seems worth to pursue further.
    In the eighties, burgers made from unripe spelt where très chic.
    Time for a revisit.

  9. Did I read correctly--ten pages on veggie burgers? Why do I not yet have this book?!

    I love little foods. These look scrummy and I could get away with serving them on a white roll and not feel at all guilty.

    Cookbook authors really should thank you for bringing the pretty to their recipes.

  10. Deb, I am loving these lovely little sliders! What a great idea to cut the sandwich thins for buns and I love your choice of toppings too. They look scrumptious!

  11. I love this kind of recipes for my vegetarian husband!!!Delicious.

  12. You know, I have a Mark Bittman cookbook that I got for Christmas before last and have never opened it. I have no idea why. I'll have to take a closer look this weekend.

  13. Veggie burgers are good in any incarnation and these sound really tasty. I just blogged up an entry for Souper Sundays at the Crispy Cook if you care to check it out. Let me know if you need any additional information.

  14. Deb these look great and sound really tasty. I also love the idea of taking the base mixture and using it in all sorts of other ways - tacos sound like a great idea.

  15. Oh I've been looking for a great veggie burger recipe ... looks like I came to the right place :)

  16. Joanne--I promise to slow down! ;-) I think you need a copy of HTCEV for sure! ;-)

    Kat--love "capanked" ;-)

    Pierce--I think it is much easier in mini form--although these held pretty well.

    Kim--Yep--so many ways to enjoy a veggie burger. ;-)

    Lori--they are so much better than buying them and I loved making the "crumbles" too. ;-)

    Mary--I agree and minis are just so fun too! ;-)

    Rebecca--yes he does have the best recipes--easy and delicious! ;-)

    Andreas--thanks! Veggie burgers are a classic.

    Lisa--thanks! You need the book!

    Diva--thank you! ;-)

    Erica--I hope you try it for your hubby and like it. ;-)

    Lee Ann--I hope you do and maybe come join us at IHCC. ;-)

    Rachel--thanks and thanks for sending your soup to SS. ;-)

    Sue--thanks! The base crumbles are awesome--I had them in tacos and eggs--Yum! ;-)

    Muneeba--thanks! These are worth a try for the many variations. ;-)


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