Today the choice of burgers is wide enough to satisfy even the most demanding palates. You can opt for a simple, gourmet, or vegetarian burger.
But before sharing the recipe for a potato and lentil burger, let me remind you when there was only Swiss steak in Italy.
Swiss and hamburger steaks
I remember well the minced steak, pressed and cooked in the pan.
I didn’t like it. Eating it was torture. Mainly for someone like me who grew up with the imperative to eat what was on the plate.
I had two problems with Swiss: the consistency and the taste.
The ones my grandmother bought at the butcher were perhaps too pressed and broke into crumbs that I couldn’t stand. Finally, there was no taste because the mince mixture was tasteless.
Nothing to do with the tasty, juicy burgers I would discover a few years later.
And yet, Swiss and burgers are the same things.
Two different names for the same thing.
A minced meatball, squashed and cooked on a sizzling pan. In the beginning, the meat was beef, later came variations of chicken and turkey.
But the hamburger, unlike the Swiss, soon ended up in the bun, and this step decreed its success compared to the Swiss.
The two names refer to the geographical origin of the food: Swiss contains a generic indication of something that comes from beyond the Alps. Hamburger is more specific and means a citizen of Hamburg (Hamburg + “er” the genitive form of German and translates as ‘of’, from Hamburg). So even the term Swiss refers to a German recipe when Swiss and German could be synonymous (German canton of Switzerland).
Hamburg, a German seaport city, was the perfect place for the burger steak, the steak named like the city, to spread across Europe. And, in the wake of German emigrants, it also arrived in America as early as the first half of the 19th century, where it became the hamburger we all know. That is a complete meal enriched with vegetables, cheese, and sauces.
The word hamburger, like the term Swiss, indicates just a piece of meat. And not also the bun.
Potato and lentil burger recipe
For a long time, I tried to develop a recipe for vegetarian Swiss steak that would also make a good burger between two slices of bread.
But the problem was always the same: once cooked, the dough remained soft and broke. Good taste, unacceptable presentation.
The lentil and potato burger you find here is, at last, a recipe that works.
Adding an egg to the dough is essential but not everything.
It remains very delicate when cooked. That’s why in the process, I recommend cooking it between two sheets of baking paper cut to size. In this way, when you have to turn them, you can put the spatula under the kitchen paper, and this step, for me, is essential not to risk breaking them.
Finally, a final tip, once cooked, allow the lentil burger to rest for a couple of minutes. That way, it has time to compact.
If you freeze them, a test I did, don’t thaw them, heat them into a hot pan and let them rest for two minutes uncovered before serving (or the moisture will make the mixture soft).
I have enjoyed it served as a Swiss, accompanied by a side dish, or as a burger between two slices of good bread, ketchup and mayonnaise sauce, cheese, and vegetables.
The choice is yours!
Buona cucina, Monica
Cook with me
When I was a child, at home, I always struggled with steak. I wrote about my struggle with the classic steak HERE. In the post about drunken chops with beetroot marinated in olive oil.
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You can freeze the lentil burger.
Potato and lentil burger recipe
serves 4 (burgers of approx. 120g)
List of the ingredients
grated Parmesan cheese, 40g
olive oil, 40 g
salt and black pepper to taste
aromatic bouquet (rosemary, laurel, sage)
*weight of boiled vegetables
Wash a sprig of rosemary (4cm), a few sage leaves, and a bay leaf.
Dry and tie the aromatic herbs together with kitchen string to make a bouquet garnì.
Choose dark lentils that do not need to be soaked and cook in salted water with the aromatic bunch until soft but not overcooked (about 10-12 minutes over medium-low heat; it depends on the lentils: larger ones need more time).
Drain, discard the bouquet and set aside 20 g of lentils.
Mash the potatoes and finely chop the carrots and leek.
Combine lentils, potatoes, leek, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in a blender and blend until firm but sticky. You can do the same with an immersion blender.
Stir the carrots and lentils set aside into the mixture, taste, and add salt if necessary.
Grease a sheet of greaseproof paper and cut 8 pieces about the size of lentil burgers.
Grease or wet your fingers, divide the mixture into four equal parts, shape them into a meatball and press down with your hands.
Place each burger on a piece of baking paper and cover it with another.
Place the burgers, with the paper, on the bottom of a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees, not ventilated, for about 20-25 minutes.
Halfway through cooking, taking care not to break them, flip the lentil burgers. Put the spatula under the baking paper. It will be easier to turn them.
Before serving, wait a few minutes, as they are still very soft when they come out of the oven.
You can also cook them in the same way in a pan, by placing baking paper on the greasy bottom of the pan. Cook with the lid on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. When there are 5 minutes left to the end of cooking, remove the lid, and turn the burgers.