Olive Lentil Burgers

I hate the day after a 3-day weekend. It’s almost harder than coming back after a longer vacation because I just start getting into full-on lazy mode and then I have to snap back to reality faster than I want to. Maybe it’s because it’s still my first year teaching, but the night before my first day back after anything longer than a regular weekend I have all kinds of crazy anxiety dreams about my kids going crazy and refusing to do anything.

It kind of worked out well today, because I was bracing for the worst and they were actually really good. I’m still getting over a bad cold and they all seemed really concerned that I was sick, so they didn’t push me the way they usually do. Anytime anyone tells me teaching middle school must be really tough I kind of have to disagree. I think kindergarten would be way worse.

I didn’t plan on taking any pictures of this dinner because I wasn’t sure it would turn out. I’ve had really bad luck with veggie burgers lately – they have ALL just fallen apart, had really weird texture, or been off in the flavor department. Not these. Like my students today, they were pretty much perfect. (I realize I’m now setting myself up for them to be complete terrors tomorrow. I’ll be ready.)

There’s a lot of stuff going on here with the mushrooms, lentils, and olives, but the primary flavor is olive, although it’s not at all overpowering. I pan-fried them for a few minutes on each side to get the outsides crisp, then put them in the oven, and instead of using bread crumbs like the recipe called for, I used oat bran. Sometimes that completely backfires, but today it worked out really well. They are still a little fragile when they go into the pan – you definitely need to make sure there’s enough oil and it’s hot – but they end up taking on a great, firm texture after spending a little time in the oven.

(adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)

makes 6 burgers

3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 1/4 cups cooked (or canned) lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup oat bran, divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and when it’s hot, saute onion for about 3 minutes with a pinch of salt. Add mushroom, garlic, black pepper, and thyme and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until mushroom is brown and soft

While that mixture is cooking, roughly chop the olives olives.

When mushrooms mixture is cooked, transfer it to the food processor. Add all other ingredients except for 1/2 a cup of oat bran. Pulse until well-mixed and almost smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup oat bran. Let stand about 10 minutes

Line a baking sheet with parchment and have it ready. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat in a wide skillet. When the oil is hot, divide half the burger mixture into 3 patties and set into the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer the cooked patties to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the burger mixture.

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