Red lentil burgers

As this post is being published I am spending a portion of my summer vacations in Poland. Prior to getting here, I had spent a few days in Norrköping visiting a dear friend of mine. I traveled there two days after my job was done, finding it absolutely unbearable to stay in town any longer for some reason. I love the cute little town I live in, but a creeping sense of suffocation had me in its grip and I needed to get away, fast. The fact that my boyfriend was in Rome and I was not enjoying my time alone as much as I usually do (I am an only child and have been raised to love my own company very much) didn’t help either. Well, long story short I hopped on a train and got off in Norrköping.

Norrköping is a cute town located a couple of hours south from where I live. Being not for the fact that my friend studies and lives there I wouldn’t have probably chosen it as my first holiday destination, but this pull factor was strongly convincing, and its proximity to Skavsta airport, Stockholm’s low cost hub, made it very convenient for me to fly Ryanair to Poland after visiting my friend. So I got to Norrköping on the day before Sweden’s biggest holiday, Midsommar. The city seemed a ghost town, there was no soul in sight.

This didn’t bother. We just spent some quality time in the kitchen my friend shares with a few flatmates and cooked dinner for all. Back in the time when both of us lived in the same student house and spent quite a few meal times together, there was one dish that became her forte and that since she’s moved to Norrköping I haven’t been able to feature on my blog – red lentil burgers. I can say I have traveled all the way to Norrköping to finally get her to make me those vegetarian burgers one more time, for the sake of the blog. Red lentil burgers (“Eleburger”):

  • 500 g red lentils
  • 150 g carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 liter boiling water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g breadcrumbs

These portion will yield abut 8 burgers. We were a party of 4 and counted 2 burgers per person. Red lentils need no prior soaking, but it’s good to rinse them, so rinse the lentils in a colander and let them sit until needed. Peel and mince both the onion and the carrots. Warm up 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pot (I recommend using one with a thick bottom) and stir-fry the carrot and onion until soft, around 5 minutes. During this time, add the sweet paprika and some salt and pepper. Salt and pepper will need adjusting later on, too, but don’t overdo. In the meantime, set 1 liter of water to boil. Add the rinsed lentils to the pot, give it a stir, then pour the boilig water. Depending on the size of the pot, you may need more or less of it, the goal is to pour enough to cover the veggies. Lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring from time to time and cooking it uncovered. Cook until the water evaporates and the lentils are cooked through (about 20 minutes). When thickened and cooked, remove from heat and let cool until cold enough to work with bare hands.When the mixture has cooled, add 1 whole egg and 50 g of breadcrumbs and work those in either with a spatula or with your hands. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. Form patties that weigh about 150 g each and lay them on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake the burgers in the preheated oven at 200°C for 25 minutes, flipping them halfway through.We enjoyed our burgers with home-made mayo, a lettuce leaf, fresh tomato and avocado, on a regular hamburger bun with sesame seeds. Optionally, the burgers can be made spicier subbing sweet paprika for hot or smoked one, but we went for a milder version here. Mayo is my favourite sauce, and home-made with a hint of mustard is a match made in heaven for those lentil burgers.

My friend’s flatmate treated us to a glass of cold beer. Outside it was empty and gloomy – the typical weather one should expect from Midsommar, but that didn’t matter. There I was, in a communal kitchen, sharing a meal with people of different nationalities around a table that nobody cares to keep clean, enjoying the feeling of nostalgia for a time when this was my everyday life and I loved eberything about it.

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