By Chef Michael Smith
Mushrooms add lots of rich, meaty flavour to these awesome vegetarian cakes. The meat-less base is built on the classic grain/legume combo of brown rice and lentils while their meat-like texture comes from the magical ability of chia seeds to absorb moisture and build strength. These cakes will help you fill more than Half Your Plate with veggie goodness!
Makes 8 to 10 thick cakes
for the mushroom base
2 tablespoons of any vegetable oil
1 large chopped onion
4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 pound of thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup of brown rice
1 cup of dried green lentils
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
for the burger blend
1 cup of chia seeds
1/2 cup (125ml) of peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of miso paste
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of soya sauce a peeled and grated sweet potato
Begin with the mushroom base. Splash a puddle of oil into a large skillet or heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the flavours brighten, textures soften and moisture evaporates, 5 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until their moisture is released and evaporates away and they brown lightly, about 15 minutes. Add the rice, lentils, water, thyme and bay leaf. Briefly bring the works to a full furious boil then immediately reduce to a slow steady simmer. Cover tightly and cook until the grains and legumes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and without removing the lid rest for another 10 minutes or so.
Form the meat-less blend. Transfer the mushroom mixture into your food processor. Add the chia seeds, nut butter, miso paste and soy sauce. Pulse until thoroughly smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the sweet potato.
Refrigerate the works, giving the chia seeds time to strengthen the protein-rich savoury blend, at least 20 minutes or even overnight.
Form the mixture into thick even cakes. Reserve them on a lightly oiled parchment paper-lined baking tray. Prepare and preheat your barbecue, grill, griddle or oven to 400 or more. Grill, pan fry or bake the cakes until hot and delicious, 20 minutes or so. For best results bake at 350 for 15 minutes or pan fry over medium heat. Serve as you would a steak, center of the plate with lots of vegetables!
Kitchen Tip You can easily serve these as burgers with all the fixings. You can also make a double batch and freeze them until you crave them. They’re best frozen individually in resealable plastic bags. Bake or pan fry them straight from the freezer, adjusting the cooking time as needed!