Spring is such a strange time of year as far as my kitchen is concerned. We may be transplanting vegetable seedlings up a storm and playing in the dirt almost daily, but it’s still too early for our farm to actually have anything for us to eat.
Honestly, it’s kind of a tease. We spend our days talking about summer veggies and handling plants, then leave the farm empty handed. It will still be a couple of weeks until our spring greens are ready. Besides a very small asparagus and rhubarb patch, there is nothing for us to harvest for dinner.
This time of year I alternate between two habits: spending a fortune at the farmer’s market because I’m not patient enough to wait for our own fresh veggies, and digging through my pantry because I’ve forgotten to pick up groceries yet again.
These sweet potato burgers began as a simple experiment to use up some red lentils along with anything else I had on hand. We’re moving soon (more on that later) and the more mason jars full of teeny amounts of lentils, grains and dried beans I can get rid of, the better! Quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocado and a plethora of warm spices are always readily stocked in our pantry so they were added to the mix. It turned into a (surprisingly) perfect meal I will gladly make once a week all winter long when fresh veggies are sparse.
I love this meal for several reasons only the first one being because it is so gosh darn delicious. I also love it because it can easily be made for a crowd! I adore entertaining, especially during the farming season, so anything that can easily be scaled up is a great recipe in my book! These sweet potato & lentil patties are especially ideal for a crowd because they are appropriate for almost all dietary restrictions. Both vegan and gluten-free (with appropriate sandwich fixings and buns), you’d never guess they were so healthy. Rich and creamy, these burgers somehow feel heavy and light at the same time. They are dense and loaded with nutrition without weighing you down.
And lastly, I’m crazy about these burgers because it’s filled with all my favorite spices. Curry, cumin and ginger. Coriander and garlic. A touch of cayenne and cinnamon. These spices come together in a perfect blend of sweet and smoky, spicy and earthy. If these aren’t all spices you have on hand, I urge you to reevaluate your spice cabinet! This combination of warming spices melds well with so many different veggies.
Happy spring ya’ll! On the next rainy day when it’s too dreary for grilling, whip up a different kind of burger from your pantry. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
The spice jars, spice labels and spice rack pictured in this post are from the AllSpice 30-Jar Rack with Walnut Stain. Thank you so much to AllSpice spice racks for sponsoring this post.
Visit AllSpice Spice Rack’s website to purchase your own! All Leek & Carrot readers will receive 10% off by entering discount code LEEK at checkout!
VEGAN SWEET POTATO & LENTIL BURGERS
Makes 8 burgers
Takes 2 hours (plus time for chilling, optional)
1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1-2/3 cups water
2 medium sweet potatoes (or 1 large), well scrubbed
1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups chickpea flour
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork, pierce sweet potato several times. Place sweet potatoes on rack in oven once preheated. Place a baking sheet on the shelf below to catch any drips. Bake for one hour.
Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear, about a minute. Add rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan and toast for one minute over high heat. Add lentils, salt and water to the pot. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, quinoa should be cooked and lentils should be a little mushy. Excess liquid will remain in the pot. Remove from the pan heat, pour into the fine mesh strainer and thump a few times to remove excess water. Return to saucepan, add spices and stir to combine. Cover the pot with a towel and place the lid back on top. Let sit until sweet potatoes are done (about 25 minutes).
Remove sweet potatoes from oven and let rest 10 minutes until cook enough to handle. Once cool, remove skins and place in a medium bowl. Mash until smooth. Add quinoa lentil mixture to sweet potatoes and stir until well-combined. Chill for an hour (or overnight) or make patties immediately. The mixture will be much easier to work with if chilled for 24-hours.
When ready to make patties, pour chickpea flour into a baking dish. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment or wax paper.
Remove mixture from the fridge. Take about a half cup of chilled mixture and roll into a ball. It should be a little smaller than the size of a baseball. Repeat until you use all the sweet potato mixture; you should have 8 balls. Roll each individually in chickpea flour until well coated. Place on baking sheet lined with chickpea flour and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat in a large deep skillet. Remove sweet potato balls from freezer, gently smash into a patties and re-dredge in chickpea flour. Add three or four patties to the pan (however many you can fit without crowding) and cook for 4 minutes until well-browned and crisp. Flip and cook 3 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining patties until all are cooked. Add oil as needed.
Serve on your favorite buns (I’m currently obsessed with pretzel buns and onion rolls) with sliced avocado, lettuce and a spicy sauce (below).
VEGAN SPICY SAUCE
1/4 cup Vegenaise (or regular mayonnaise if not vegan)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons sirachi
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and well-combined.