Makes 6 burgers
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes
There are plenty of ideas out there for what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, and those creations are some of my favorites in the world. But what if it’s the beginning of November and you don’t yet have any Thanksgiving leftovers? Well, how about I transport you to the day after Thanksgiving; except without all those dishes, without all the travel and without all of those classic “jokes” where your great-uncle twice removed tries to make you eat turkeys?
Enter the from-scratch Thanksgiving Burger. It’s an unholy carbfest: think stuffing that’s stuffed in a roll! Lentils provide that proteiny burgerness, mushrooms add that earthy umaminess and hazelnuts aren’t only deliciously festive here, but they add great texture, too. And of course, you’ve got to have cranberries. Here, they are dried and studded throughout the burger like ruby jewels, providing little bursts of tart sweetness. All of the stuffing stand-bys — your celery, sage and thyme — are accounted for, too. You’re basically eating a beautiful Bob Ross landscape of the prettiest autumn foliage you ever did see. But in burger form. And believe me, you will give thanks with every bite!
~Canned lentils work super great here. But if you don’t have any, make sure to account for the time it will take to boil some up.
~I used kale as my green, but it wasn’t completely untouched. I rubbed it with a little olive oil and salt. I think, though, that arugula (plain and unadultereated) would be a fantastic green to use instead.
~Mayo was my spread of choice for sure. I think ketchup would be too overpowering with these babies.
~I can see some food processors not doing the best job of chopping hazelnuts. If yours is such a machine, chop them by hand, using a clean kitchen towel over the cutting board and your chef’s knife. PS don’t bother peeling the hazelnuts. The skin doesn’t disturb anything here.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Small yellow onion, diced medium
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
4 cups baguette sliced into cubes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup hazelnuts [see note above]
I cup cooked lentils (brown or green)
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
6 sourdough rolls
Kale [or your preferred greens, see note above]
Vegan mayo (storebought or homemade)
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan non-stick (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Saute onion in one tablespoon olive oil for about 3 minutes with a pinch of salt, until translucent. Add mushroom, celery, garlic, black pepper, thyme and sage and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until mushrooms have released most of their moisture.
Add baguette cubes, and drizzle in the other tablespoon of oil. Toss bread to coat in the mixture and cook for 5 minutes or so, tossing often, to lightly brown the bread.
Add the vegetable broth and use your spatula to really mush the bread up in the broth, so that it absorbs all the liquid and resembles stuffing. Let it cook about 3 more minutes, to sop up all the flavor.
While everything is cooking in the pan, place hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until they are chopped (not pureed.) Pieces should range from itty bitty to pea sized. Transfer nuts to a large mixing bowl. (No need to clean it out for the next step.)
Add the lentils to the food processor and puree until relatively smooth. Now add the bread mixture from the pan into the processor and pulse 10 to 15 times. You want the mixture to hold together, but there should still be mushroom and celery visible, it shouldn’t be a puree.
Transfer this to the mixing bowl with the hazelnuts. Add in the cranberries and salt. The cranberries like to stick together so make sure you separate them. Combine thoroughly, using your hands if need be, to form a firm but still malleable mixture. Taste for salt and pepper.
Let the mixture cool completely. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so, just to help it firm up and let the flavors meld a bit.
Rinse out your cast iron, and preheat on medium-high. Roll the burgers into 6 equal sized tennis balls. Wash your hands often and keep them a little damp during this process for that the burgers don’t stick to your hands. Flatten into 1 1/2 inch thick patties.
Cook in a thin layer of oil for about 4 minutes on each side. Serve on buns with greens and mayo. Die of happiness!