I’ve wanted to make this crispy sweet potato, lentil, quinoa and spinach veggie burger recipe for a while now. The last time I made them was probably in the summer. They turned out amazing, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since, but kept putting off making them, opting for simpler dishes. I finally put my foot down though, stopped making excuses, and made them not just as burgers but also bite sized poppers, opting for a crispy panko coating instead of my usual chickpea flour, and all I can say is wow (WOW).
There are so many fresh, good-for-you ingredients packed into in these crispy veggie burgers, yet they come together into such a harmony of flavours that you won’t even believe it could taste so good. And, if you somehow manage not to eat them all right off the stove, they actually manage to taste even more amazing as they cool down.
Why don’t I make them more often? Good question. The main reason is that this is one of my more time-intensive recipes, based on a recipe I came across a couple of years ago, it involves preparing in advance the sweet potato, quinoa and lentils, combining ingredients, and letting the mixture set – I usually do the prep work the night before and then let the mixture chill in the fridge overnight before cooking. And since I usually make food because I want something to eat right now, not tomorrow, this recipe keeps getting shelved.
But this time I didn’t shelve the recipe. I roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven, while in parallel cooking the lentils and quinoa together in a pot on the stove, and chopping up the spinach, chives and mint.
After draining off any remnant water from the quinoa/lentil mixture, I added it to the sweet potato and mixed it well together.
I then added the chopped spinach, chives and mint leaves, and 3 tbsp of lemon juice, and mixed it together with my hands until fairly evenly combined.
Next I packed the mixture into various shapes – balls, patties, tater tot style cylinders (for an easier time, cut your spinach into smaller pieces than I did – it will stick together better), and rolled them in the panko flakes before placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
To keep this recipe gluten-free, use GF bread crumbs or chickpea flour instead of the panko flakes.
This recipe is enough for about 30 crispy “poppers” (2.5cm balls) or about 12 small-medium sized burgers. Once you have formed all of your patties/balls, place the tray in the fridge, uncovered, to chill for at least an hour. I chose to leave it overnight to really give it a chance to set.
Initially my plan had been to make this a baked veggie burger recipe and avoid the added oil from frying. But, coming back to it the next evening, I baked the tray I had put together for 20 minutes. While they started to crisp, they were not browning at all and the underside was quite gummy from sitting in the fridge. So I realized baking was not going to be the way to go. I wanted that crispy, golden result that you can only get from frying.
To keep the flavours pure, I went all out and fried them in grapeseed oil, which has a very subtle, gentle flavour, though is more expensive than your typical frying oil. To fry the entire recipe I used about 1/3 of a bottle, adding it gradually to keep a shallow pool in the frying pan.
I heated the oil to the highest temperature and then turned it down to 7(/10) and fried the sweet potato lentil quinoa burgers in their various forms, turning every few minutes to ensure a crisp brown outer shell. When removing them from the pan, I transferred them to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the extra oil, moving the “drained” ones eventually to a clean plate.
I have been trying to figure out what kind of sauce I would serve these with. Maybe some sort of creamy garlicky sauce. But honestly, they have such an amazing combination of flavours, with the lemon juice playing off the sweetness of the sweet potato and the crunchy panko coating, that you can just eat them on their own without feeling like something is missing. And with the added smugness that you just ate sweet potato, lentils, quinoa, spinach, mint and chives, all in one bite!
This veggie burger recipe is a perfect healthy alternative to the traditional Super Bowl party foods, so be sure to add it to your menu. It’s worth the effort.
Here’s the recipe so you can get started!
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 3 cups chopped spinach
- ⅓ cup red lentils (uncooked, rinsed)
- ⅓ cup quinoa (uncooked, rinsed)
- 2 cups water
- ⅓ cup fresh chives, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt (add ½ tsp to the lentils, ½ tsp to the mixture)
- 1 cup panko crumbs or chickpea flour
- ¾ cup grapeseed oil (for frying)
- Bake the sweet potatoes at 180 C until soft, remove from skin, mash and set aside.
- In parallel, cook the lentils and quinoa together in a pot of water with half the salt. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to medium heat and let simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft and you can see the white curls on the quinoa grains.
- While everything is cooking, chop the spinach, mint and chives.
- Drain the excess liquid off the quinoa/lentil mix and add and the sweet potato mash together in a bowl and combine well.
- Add the second half of the salt, the spinach, mint and chives, and the lemon juice. Give it a quick stir and then combine well with your hands until you have a uniform mixture.
- Pack into patties/balls and roll in the panko/chickpea flour until well coated.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in the fridge, uncovered, to set - preferably overnight, but at least for 1 hour.
- Once chilled, bake in the oven at 180 C for 20 minutes to set the outer crust.
- Use a spatula to gently scrape under each pattie/ball to ensure it is not stuck to the paper.
- Heat the oil ¼ cup at a time in a frying pan (I used non-stick. you may have to adjust the amount of oil for stainless steel) on high heat and then reduce to medium heat. Cook the veggie burgers for a few minutes on each side, turning once they have browned and set to a firm crust.
- When finished, remove from the oil and let dry on a paper towel lined plate before transferring to a clean dish.
- Serve warm or chilled with your choice of dipping sauces or as is.
This recipe has been featured on Allergy Free Thursdays and Meatless Mondays