As we lean into the start of summer, I’m craving food that is juicy, delectable, easy, and fun. I want meals that lend themselves to the joy of the party, rather than becoming the main event, as is so often the case around holidays in the colder months. Watermelon, popsicles, vibrant salads, ice cream, and, yes, veggie burgers.
Raised a vegetarian, I have long held a very special place in my heart for veggie burgers. I remember the first, epic GardenBurger I tried, the way its savory blend paired so perfectly with melted cheese, avocado, dill pickles, and tangy ketchup. I’ve tried many a veggie burger since then, and have come to appreciate those that stay vegetable-centric while hitting as many umami notes as possible.
These burgers, made of earthy lentils, rich caramelized onions, brown rice, sautéed mushrooms, smoked paprika, and shredded mozzarella, are the perfect answer to every summer barbecue.



  • 3/4 cup uncooked black or Du Puy lentils (or 1 cup cooked lentils)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (or 3/4 cup cooked brown rice)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or stock, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 yellow onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 pound crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


  1. If you are cooking your lentils and brown rice: In one saucepan, add 3/4 cup lentils and 3 cups vegetable stock. In another saucepan, add 1/2 cup brown rice and 1 cup vegetable stock. Cover, bring both to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer both until rice is cooked (20-25 minutes) and lentils are completely soft (25-30 minutes). If liquid in lentils evaporates too quickly, add water. Once done, drain lentils completely. Put 3/4 cup cooked brown rice and 1 cup cooked lentils into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil and very thinly sliced onions. Sprinkle with sea salt, smoked paprika, and balsamic vinegar, and stir to evenly distribute seasoning. Stir every few minutes, turning onions from the bottom of the pan to the top, and vice versa. Sauté until deep brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Scoop onions into a fine mesh strainer held over the frying pan, and use a spoon or spatula to press out as much excess oil and liquid as you can back into the pan. Place drained onions into the mixing bowl with lentils Add sliced mushrooms and sauté 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and have released liquid. Drain off liquid, and add mushrooms to mixing bowl with other ingredients.
  3. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and just beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and crush with a mortar and pestle or finely chop. Add to mixing bowl, along with minced garlic and shredded mozzarella. Stir to incorporate ingredients, then add smoked paprika, sea salt, pepper, and corn starch. Stir again to incorporate fully, making sure there are no clumps of corn starch anywhere.
  4. Transfer mixture to food processor or blender, and pulse, scraping ingredients down from the sides with a spatula, until you have a half-smooth, half-chunky mixture (or according to your texture preference).
  5. Preheat oven to 300ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out burger mixture in 1/2 cup scoops, forming into patties of desired thickness and shape. I like about 1/2”-3/4” patties, but shape as you please. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  6. After patties been sitting 7-8 minutes, heat a large cast-iron or non-stick frying pan over medium flame with a small amount of oil. When thoroughly heated (1-2 minutes), add two or three patties at a time and let cook 5-6 minutes on each side (10-12 minutes total, flipping halfway through). You should get a nice, crispy sear on both sides. Return to parchment paper and once all are cooked, place in oven to keep warm until ready to eat.

Nutritional Information

Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Dietary Fiber

7 servings