Even if you don’t like eggplant, you will love these eggplant burgers, which really don’t taste like eggplant at all! Try them with Spicy Onion-Pepper Relish or your favorite burger toppings.
Leftovers give you two separate good feelings. When you first put them away, you feel really intelligent–“I’m saving food!” And then, after a month, when hair is growing out of them and you throw them away you feel…really intelligent–“I’m saving my life!”
I often think of eggplants like George Carlin’s leftovers. When you buy one, you feel really good for bringing home this healthy, shiny vegetable. Then you put it into your fridge and forget it for a week or so, and when you pull it out, it’s all dull and sunken in places, and you feel…. Well, that’s where the comparison ends because, if you’re like me, you feel guilty that this once-beautiful food has gone to waste.
It used to happen to me more often than I want to admit until I hit upon a solution: If I haven’t used the eggplant after two or three days, I cut it in two and roast it in my toaster oven. Eggplant will last longer once it’s cooked, giving me time to figure out what new and adventurous recipe I want to create with it (though most of the time my cooking muse is silent and it becomes baba ganoush).
Baba will probably always be my favorite way to use roasted eggplant, but these veggie burgers and the pesto I posted earlier this summer tie for second place. Even if you don’t like eggplant, you will love these burgers, which really don’t taste like eggplant at all (ask E the Eggplant Hater, who enjoyed her burger even knowing it contained eggplant).
I used a new favorite ingredient to bind together the eggplant and lentils: Quinoa flakes are quinoa that has been steamed and flattened so that you can use it like oatmeal as a hot cereal. It cooks quickly and in this recipe doesn’t have to be pre-cooked at all.
But if you don’t have quinoa flakes, regular old-fashioned oats also work. Just pulse them in the food processor after measuring to chop them up a little (no need to turn them into flour.)
If you’re not a curry lover, try changing the seasonings to suit your taste. The ingredients go well with chipotle and chile powder or thyme, basil, and oregano. Have fun and be adventurous!
One note: The batter is wetter than most veggie burgers’, so I form the burgers in a hot skillet and pre-brown them before baking or air frying them. Forming them into patties with your hands can be messy, so I advise placing a ring mold into the skillet, filling it to about 1/2-inch thick, and lifting it off to use again. You may think that the batter will never thicken up, but it does, creating a meatier texture than you might expect.
Like most veggie burgers, these will probably fall apart if you try to cook them on a barbecue grill, but once they’re baked, they hold together well and can be reheated on the grill, making them a perfect food to bring to a Labor Day picnic.
Even dogs love them! 😉
Curried Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Burgers
- 1 large eggplant (*see Notes below)
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 3/4 cup quinoa flakes or rolled oats (Chop old fashioned oats in food processor after measuring and before using.)
- 1/2 small onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 2 teaspoons potato starch, corn starch, or arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (spicy or mild)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (or other sweetener, optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove the top of the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Place it cut-sides down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake for 25 minutes or until the eggplant is completely sunken in and tender. Remove to a shallow dish and allow to cool completely. (You can do this even several days in advance and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.)
- Once the eggplant is cool, discard any liquid that has accumulated and scrape the pulp from the peel. Place the pulp in a food processor and pulse a few times to make a coarse puree. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix very well and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Wet your hands and form eggplant mixture into patties about 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. (You can also form the burgers by spooning the mixture into the pan and using the back of a spoon to shape it into patties or by placing a ring mold into the pan and molding the mixture inside it.) Cook three or four at a time until well browned and then carefully flip over and brown the other side. Remove with a spatula and place each burger on a prepared baking sheet for oven baking or preheated air fryer basket.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Place the browned burgers onto the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until burgers are cooked through.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F. Place the browned burgers onto the hot air fryer basket and cook for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. Exact time will depend on your air fryer.
- Serve with traditional hamburger condiments or with Spicy Onion-Pepper Relish, below.
Nutritional info is approximate.
I enjoyed the flavor of mild curry with the lentils and eggplant and, being the heat-lover that I am, spiced them up by serving them with this fiery relish made from onions and a jalapeno pepper from my garden.
Spicy Onion-Pepper Relish
- 1 medium onion , finely diced
- 1 hot pepper (I used red jalapeno), seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika (or 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Combine all ingredients and allow to stand for 30 minutes for flavors to blend. For hotter relish, add extra cayenne pepper to taste.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Please pin and share!