Veggie burgers are a must-make-at-home sort of a food; commercial versions just don’t cut it. Store-bought veggie burgers are basically flavourless disks of congealed unidentifiable greyish veggie (?) matter, while their restaurant-“counterparts” are, more often than not, the very same, horrid, store-bought patties.

Call me a control freak, but I like to know what I am ingesting. Just because a package is labelled “vegetarian”, does not necessarily mean that it is a healthy or a nutritious product, it just means that it is devoid of hooves and intestines. By making my own veggie burgers, I have the opportunity to up the ante. Why stop at the exclusion of animal toes? Why not shoot for the veggie-burger-stars?

This recipe is literally choc full of healthy ingredients and is packed with flavour. The burger itself is amazingly delicious on a bun, but is also fabulous when served atop a simple spinach or arugula salad. By pan-frying the burgers in a little bit of oil, they develop a really tasty, crunchy, exterior which adds a really lovely dimension to the healthy burger.

And the pesto! I would happily be the (wo)man to walk 1000 miles to fall down at its door. How’s that for a bold Proclamation??

Honestly, though, they are amazing.

Quinoa-Lentil Burgers with Cilantro-Hempseed Pesto

Adapted from Alive

1 cup (250 mL) dried green or brown lentils
1/2 cup (125 mL) quinoa
1 cup (250 mL) cilantro, packed
1/3 cup (80 mL) hempseeds
1/3 cup (80 mL) Parmesan cheese, grated
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic, chopped and divided
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil (or hemp oil)
1/2 cup (125 mL) bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup (80 mL) walnuts or almonds, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (500 mL) spinach or arugula
1 cup (250 mL) roasted red peppers, sliced (I roasted my own)
ciabatta rolls, naan bread, or pita bread

1. In medium saucepan, bring lentils and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 35 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In separate small saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 cup (250 mL) water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, in bowl of food processor pulse together cilantro, hempseeds, Parmesan, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl. With the machine running, pour in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube and process until mixture is well combined but still grainy. Remove pesto and clean food processor bowl.
4. Add half of lentils to food processor bowl along with quinoa, bread crumbs, egg, 2 garlic cloves, mustard, cumin, remaining lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until well combined, scraping down sides if needed. Add walnuts and remaining lentils; pulse or mix with fork until they are incorporated into the mixture. Form into 6-8 equal-sized burgers.
5. Heat 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook lentil burgers for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned. Spread hemp pesto on the ciabatta rolls (or naan bread or pitas). Place burgers in pitas and top with arugula and roasted red pepper.