Game Day! What could be better than eating a big sloppy burger while cheering your team on to victory? Well, I guess actually having a victory  would make it a bit more enjoyable. The last several weeks have been rough for my two teams: University of Kansas and University of Washington. (I also root for Michigan State, but only because I have a yoga teacher who is particularly brutal the week following a loss.)

I’ve already posted a burger recipe that features black beans and one that features garbanzo beans. Today’s burger has no beans. One of the main ingredients is pearl barley, which gives it a texture similar to ground beef. Like a lot of vegan recipes, the key to making this recipe less time-consuming is to plan ahead. If you soak the pearl barley overnight, it will cook in less than half the time. If you cook both the pearl barley and the lentils ahead of time, the burgers will come together much faster. (The cooked barley and the cooked lentils can be refrigerated for a couple of days.) Also, if you are making this recipe for just one or two people, you can keep the “dough” in your fridge for a couple of days and cook a burger when you’re ready to eat it.

I love this window of time on Saturday mornings before the games start, when anything can happen, hope springs eternal and the possibilities are endless. The smell of garlic and onions cooking is good, too.

Veggie Burger

  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ cup dried lentils (not red)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¾ cup cooked pearl barley (I cook 1 cup of barley and have leftovers)
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs, I used Ian’s Whole Wheat Panko)
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds, broken up (I put them in a baggie and hit them with a mallet)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 Tbsp warm water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Cooking the barley:
  1. Bring 1 cup barley and 2½ cups water or broth to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes. (If you have soaked the barley for 8 hours, it will cook in about 20-25 minutes.) Let stand 5 minutes. Drain if necessary. This makes about 3 cups, and since the recipe only uses ¾ cup, you will have leftovers to throw into another recipe!
Cooking the lentils:
  1. Combine 1½ cups water and lentils in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.
Making the burgers:
  1. Place ¼ of the lentils in a large bowl. Place remaining ¾ lentils in a food processor; process until smooth. Add processed lentils to whole lentils in bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ground flax with the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot; sauté 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to lentils. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt, barley, panko, sunflower seeds, parsley or basil, pepper and flax-water mixture. Stir well and press mixture into one big ball. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
  4. Divide mixture into 8 portions, shaping each into a ½-inch-thick patty. Heat 1½ tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 1½ tablespoons oil and 4 patties. Serve with whatever toppings you like!