Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Claire Spollen
Hands-on Time
40 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour
Serves 6 (serving size: 2 patties, 2 tablespoons cucumber, and 1 lemon wedge)

The classic version of these meatless burgers comes from Turkey, where cooked lentils are combined with fine bulgur to make the "meat" for the patties. I tend to have rice on hand more often, so I use that instead. Lightly wet your hands before shaping the patties; the water helps prevent the mixture from sticking to your skin. Serve cooked burgers on leaf lettuce if you wish, sprinkled with fresh herbs, and put out lemon wedges, a bowl of chopped cucumber, and a chile sauce or a creamy yogurt-based sauce as accompaniments. Cooked patties freeze well; reheat in the oven at 350° for 10 minutes or until heated.

How to Make It

Step 1

Rinse and drain lentils; place lentils and rice in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentil mixture; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils and rice are tender. Drain.

Step 2

Place lentil mixture in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Set aside (keep mixture in processor).

Step 3

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add green onions to pan; cook 2 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and red pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add green onion mixture, 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, and salt to food processor; process until combined.

Step 4

Divide mixture into 12 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 6 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove cooked patties from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 6 patties. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve patties with cucumber and lemon wedges.

Chef's Notes

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Ratings & Reviews

sprky182's Review

February 10, 2015
I agree with the other reviewers that this does not come together at all like it is written. I tried to fry them like the recipe said but I ended up rolling the balls in panko so that they would keep them in their shape. The taste was decent but they were a terrible mess to make. I assume that the original reviewer using bulgur added some necessary bulk and binding elements that are missing when you follow the recipe as written.

GabbyAmyx's Review

September 27, 2014
This recipe is horrible. I had a feeling it wasn't going to work out as soon as I noticed it didn't call for anything that would help the ingredients stick together (such as bread crumbs or egg). I decided to give it a try just as the recipe states anyway.The mixture was bland and the consistency of a very dense pancake batter. There was no way I could "form this into patties" as the recipe directs. Instead, I had to pour it into the skillet in spoonfuls. The first batch did not hold together at all and was just a lump of goo in the pan. I tried adding some egg and bread crumbs to firm up the batter. This turned out better, but the finished burgers were still really dense and mushing in the middle. Baking them for a few minutes after browning the outside helped make them palatable. I also made a cilantro sour cream sauce that helped with the blandness. Overall, this recipe was a lot of work for mediocre results.

mjeanne79's Review

August 31, 2014
Tried this recipe and it did NOT turn out. The mixture was delicious but was the consistency of a bean dip and would not form patties, no matter how much it cooked. It is noteworthy to mention that, as written, it is also WAY TOO HOT TO TOUCH in order to form patties (we had to try the fridge and putting it in an ice bath to cool it down). But even after it was cooled off, it became, at best, a thick dip consistency, and did not form patties upon cooking. I am convinced you guys missed something important in the printing of this recipe, because followed exactly as written, this recipe did not work. The New Mexican green chile cheeseburgers (black bean burgers) in July 2014 issue, however, were excellent.

sfilippi's Review

August 17, 2014
This is a delicious vegan and gluten-free meal ! I used the classic bugler rather than white rice to up the whole grain and fiber content, but the rice will keep it gluten-free. It is simple and quick to prepare as 20 minutes of the time required was in cooking the lentils and rice. This has a little bit of heat, so if you want to tone that down decrease the red pepper. I used half the red pepper and half alleppo turkish peppers which was great. My family loved this and I will definitely make it again soon!