This lentil burger delivers on taste as well as an abundance of nutritional value such as fiber and iron. Top it with sautéed onion, tomato, and cucumber slices and place on a lettuce wrap. Serve with cooked sweet potato sticks for a complete meal!
What are Lentils?
Lentils are the edible seeds (otherwise known as pulses) of the lentil plant, which is native to Asia and North America. They're part of the Fabaceae family, which includes other pulses like chickpeas, green peas, and kidney beans. Lentils are also called "legumes," though the term technically indicates any plant in the Fabaceae family.
Brown versus Green Lentils
Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They're also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber.
Both the brown and the green lentil have a high list of nutritional values, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The main difference is the green lentil has higher protein content while the brown lentil shows a higher fiber content.
This is by far the most common variety of lentils and probably the one that you see at your local grocery store. They can range in color from khaki-brown to dark black and generally have a mild, earthy flavor. They cook in about 20 to 30 minutes and hold their shape very well. Common varieties are Spanish Brown, German Brown, and Indian Brown. The blackest and tiniest lentils you find are usually Beluga lentils, which have a rich and deeply earthy flavor.
Green lentils can be pale or mottled green-brown in color with a glossy exterior. They have a robust, somewhat peppery flavor. These types of lentils generally take the longest to cook, upwards of 45 minutes, but they keep a firm texture even after cooking. This makes them ideal for salads and other side dishes.
Why Lentils Are One of the Healthiest Food You Can Eat?
They might be tiny, but don't let their size fool you: Lentils are packed with numerous nutrients, from gut-friendly fiber to immune-boosting zinc. The little legumes are also essential ingredients in plant-based meals, thanks to their versatility and texture.
Moreover, lentils are affordable and cook quickly, further adding to their appeal.
The exact nutritional content varies between each type, but all lentils generally boast similar health benefits. Most notably, lentils are an excellent source of plant protein. Studies regularly show that people on vegetarian or vegan diets (which often rely on plant protein) are at a lower risk of certain diseases including cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and ischemic heart disease.
Additionally, lentils are a superb source of fiber. In fact, lentils have more fiber than both beans and chickpeas. Lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fiber; soluble fiber absorbs water in the body, creating a gel-like substance that may help ease diarrhea. Insoluble fiber doesn't absorb water, which has a bulking effect on the stool.
Lentils are a rich source of protein, making them a great alternative to meat or fish. As much as a third of the calories from lentils come from protein, which makes lentils the third-highest in protein, by weight, of any legume or nut. Like other legumes, lentils are low in a couple of essential amino acids, namely methionine and cysteine.
Lentils also contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Polyphenols help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals (which are harmful molecules). This protects cells from damage, potentially reducing the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease or cancer. The edible seeds are also packed with micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, iron, and zinc.
You’ll find lentils in most supermarkets, health food stores, and ethnic markets, such as Indian, Greek, and Italian. Such stores typically sell both canned and dried lentils. Some farmers’ markets offer dried lentils, particularly in bulk.
Chain grocers often carry specialty varieties, such as French green and Beluga. Some natural food stores sell lentils in bulk quantities. For the broadest selection, do your shopping online, where you’ll find canned, dried, organic, and bulk.
Dried lentils often cost less than canned ones. However, canned lentils are still a good buy and can save you a lot of time. Just open the can, rinse for a few minutes and add them to your dish.
Storing and Cooking Lentils
Lentils are legumes and stored similarly to dried vegetables. They have a good shelf life of up to a year if stored in sealed containers.
Tips for storing lentils
Store dried lentils in an airtight container in the cupboard or in a cool dry place for up to one year.
Cover and refrigerate within two hours of cooking.
Dried lentils that have been cooked can be kept covered in the fridge for 5-7 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
Lentils are easy to cook. Unlike many other legumes, they don’t require any prior soaking and can be cooked in less than 30 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use canned lentils.) It’s best to give them a rinse before cooking to remove impurities.
You can then place them in a pot, cover them with water and a pinch of salt, bring them to a boil, and let them simmer uncovered for 20–30 minutes. Your lentils should be slightly crunchy or soft, depending on your preference. Once they are boiled, drain and rinse them in cold water to prevent further cooking.
Lentil Burger with Sweet Potato Sticks
- 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup mushrooms (any variety) chopped
- 1 medium beet chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves freshly chopped
- 3 tbsp parsley leaves freshly chopped
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried ground thyme
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 4 large leaves outer Romaine lettuce
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1 large tomato sliced
- 2 large sweet potatoes cut into sticks (or fry shape)
- In a food processor add all the burger ingredients. Process on high or pulse until all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Make 4 patties and place on a lined baking sheet. Place in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to Bake at 425°F.
- Once the burgers are firm, remove from the fridge and cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes and flip the burgers. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Cook the sweet potato sticks in the oven at the same time as the burgers. Flip the potato half way through cooking.
- While the burgers are cooking, prepare the extras. Use the lettuce as a wrap for the burger. The onion and tomato can be placed on top of the burger before wrapping it.