Lately I have been thinking about how often we use the terms “easy” or “quick” for recipes, and how those terms are so relative. I’m always messing around in the kitchen and love cooking, so what is “simple” or “quick” for me may be different than what you consider a simple or quick recipe. So I’ll always be honest and let you know if there’s a recipe that takes a little more time (but is worth it, or else I wouldn’t post!) or one that is truly really quick and simple.
For me this one was “easy”, but it does have a few moving parts (i.e. cooking the brown rice, cooking the red lentils, and roasting the squash). To make it easier, any of these steps can be done ahead of time and then all ingredients assembled into one big bowl of sweet and slightly spicy “batter” when you’re ready to go. You can also make it go quicker by buying pre-cut butternut squash, and/or using pre-cooked or quick cooking brown rice.
I recently had a minor surgery and had to chill for a few days. Which sounds great, but was actually way more boring than you would think, when I like to be up and about and busy and getting things done and hanging with the family. Luckily my mom came in town and was super helpful, and my husband was amazing and spent a few days playing the role of two parents and caretaker and lawn mower and spring landscaping artist and medicine fetcher for his nonfunctional wife (thanks babe!).
But as a result of me being down and him running around with the kids and everything else, we eventually had run out of most of our groceries. Yesterday I had some quiet time where maybe I should have been resting but my mind was wandering to what we had in the kitchen and what I could make with it. At first things looked pretty bad. But then I managed to scrounge up a random butternut squash (purchased last week for spiralizing that never happened), half a bag of red lentils, a bag of brown rice, and an onion. And suddenly the wheels were turning and things were looking up!
I was like a battered mad scientist, hobbling around the kitchen with my ice pack on my stomach, stirring pots and roasting squash. But in the end, I was really excited about how these turned out. Totally worth it.
The red lentils don’t have much flavor on their own, but they give the burgers some texture and a good protein and fiber boost. When using dried lentils, make sure to rinse them first. I just measure out what I need, add the lentils to a bowl, fill with water, swirl it around, pour off the water and repeat until it’s clear (or mainly clear). Especially with red lentils, you will notice the water is very cloudy for the first few rinses, as you can see below. There may also be little stones or particles that rise to the top and you can just pour them off.
I love butternut squash, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s packed with vitamin A, and a good source of potassium and magnesium. Roasting the squash brings out it’s natural sweetness, which you can definitely taste in these burgers. So I balanced that out with a good heaping of chili garlic sauce. The brown rice adds healthy carbs and a bit of chunkiness, and the onions, carrots, and garlic give extra flavor and nutrition.
We topped these with my cilantro sauce and some crumbled feta. They would also be great with tomato, avocado, and even some pesto, which I will definitely be doing soon since pesto and basil are two of my most favorite things about summer!
- 1 cup dried red lentils (rinsed and drained)
- 6 cups butternut squash, cubed (buy it pre-cut to save time)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 3 green onions, sliced thin (white and light green portions only)
- 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (or sub sriracha)
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice (you will need 2 cups cooked, so you'll have extra)
- 1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cubed butternut squash with 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, spread on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook the brown rice and red lentils according to the package instructions:
- For the red lentils, I boil 4 cups water, add the 1 cup dried lentils, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside.
- For the brown rice, I add 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tbsp. grass fed butter to the pot.
Once the lentils are cooked and have drained, heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add the cooked red lentils (should be about 2 cups worth) and cook, stirring, for a minute or two until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat.
When the squash is done cooking, smash with the back of a fork (until just barely chunky) and stir in to the lentil and onion mixture. Add the sliced green onion, grated carrot, 2 cups of the cooked brown rice (you will have extra rice), chili garlic sauce, and ½ tsp salt (or more to taste).
There are two options for cooking:
Form into patties and bake at 425 for 40 minutes, flipping carefully after 25 (gently re-shaping as needed).
OR, heat some oil in a skillet over medium/medium low, and cook on 4 minutes each side (or until done to your liking). Be careful to not heat the skillet too high or the burgers will be overdone on the outside and underdone inside. It's a little harder to flip them in the skillet also, but they taste just as good!