Edition Food Plant Based Cooking Vol. 26 No. 09

Lentil Walnut Burgers – Chef Lisa Dahl


Chef Lisa Dahl grew up in the American heartland in meat and potato country. As a chef, her travels with companion, Scott Yates, have taken her throughout South America to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, all inspiration for the menu at Mariposa, her restaurant in Sedona, Arizona, which she opened in 2015.

Perched atop a scenic bluff, Mariposa’s floor-to-ceiling windows deliver expansive views of Sedona’s majestic red rocks. Chef Dahl uses a wood-fired grill and wood-burning oven to create handmade empanadas, ceviches, grilled chorizos, fresh fish dishes, mole and house-made chimichurri sauces inspired by her travels to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. 

So when creating a vegetarian burger option for her customers and cookbook, A Romance with Food, (Story Farm, 2021). Dahl wanted a plump flavorful patty that delivers the meaty texture of beef and holds it shape between the bread.

Dahl says, “I call this burger “The Hipster” because I came up with the recipe when I was a young and newly inspired “hippie” cook. My goal back then was to convert everyone I knew to vegetarianism. Ha! I tricked them with this burger because it was so full of flavor and so meat-like in texture that they forgot to say, “Where’s the beef?!” I have modified it over the years, replacing the brown rice in my original recipe with quinoa, and now binding it with gluten-free breadcrumbs.”

Makes 8 to 10 burgers or approximately 20 2-inch croquettes


1 cup lentils (picked over and rinsed)

3 to 4 cups vegetable broth or water

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)


1 cup organic quinoa

2½ to 3 cups water

½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (or more)

1 cup finely minced red peppers

1 cup finely minced yellow peppers

1 cup finely minced onions

1 generous tablespoon Aceite de Serrano (or substitute serrano or jalapeño pepper)

1 generous tablespoon finely minced garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

Chile flakes (optional)

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari, if gluten-free)

¾ to 1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or high-quality store-bought)


½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

¼ to ½ cup finely minced parsley

1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (or conventional breadcrumbs or panko)

Olive oil, for cooking.

Prepare Lentils:

Place washed lentils, vegetable broth, bay leaves and salt in a medium-size nonreactive saucepan. Bring lentils to a rapid boil over high flame. Adjust the heat lower to simmer; cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir occasionally, skimming off the residual foam that occurs. Cook lentils until they are tender and soft, almost overcooked, for about 40 to 60 minutes, adding additional liquid as needed throughout the process. Cooking time will depend on freshness of lentils, elevation and other variables. When lentils are done, spread on a baking sheet to cool. Do not refrigerate.

Prepare Quinoa:

While lentils are simmering, prepare quinoa. Rinse quinoa in cool water in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl until the water turns clear. Bring water and salt to a boil. Add quinoa, return to a boil, and immediately lower the flame to gently cook quinoa, covered, until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes or so. The grains should be tender but not overcooked. Remove pan from heat and set aside, partially covered. Do not refrigerate.

Prepare Sofrito:

Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add peppers and briefly sauté, drawing out the liquid from the peppers. Add onions, continuing to sauté until onions and peppers turn golden. Add Aceite de Serrano or chiles, followed by garlic, continuing to cook over low heat to prevent burning. Stir in oregano and generous pinches of chile flakes, if desired, and a couple of pinches of salt. Add soy sauce and marinara. Gently cook until sofrito has reduced to a sauce consistency. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.


In a large mixing bowl combine cooked lentils and 2 cups cooked quinoa, stirring gently (reserve excess quinoa for another use). Gradually add sofrito mixture, walnuts and parsley. Feather in breadcrumbs, ¼ cup at a time, to bind. Be careful not to overwork the mixture; it should hold together but retain a light texture.

Form mixture into desired size for burgers and chill in refrigerator until firm. If making croquettes for appetizers, shape into smaller 2-inch patties and place on a lightly greased baking sheet; cover and keep chilled until ready to cook. (Note: Patties can be frozen for later use.)

Place a heavy-gauge sauté pan or plancha over medium-high flame. Add enough oil to cover the pan surface. When oil is hot, add patties and brown evenly on first side before turning. When a nicely seared crust has formed, carefully turn with a metal spatula to brown on the other side, lowering heat slightly as necessary, until cooked evenly throughout. (Note: For veggie cheeseburgers, place a slice of cheese over each patty and allow it to melt under a domed lid or under the broiler.)

Chef’s Notes

  • Manchego or Havarti cheeses pair perfectly with the Hipster burger. For a vegan option, top it with Romesco Sauce.
  • The Hipster is delicious on an olive-oil-toasted whole-grain bun with a side of Fennel Slaw (page 243 in A Romance with Food)
  • If serving as tapas croquettes, top each patty with Cilantro-Mint Pesto, a vegan-friendly condiment (page 236 in A Romance with Food)
Recipe by Chef Lisa Dahl, author, A Romance with Food (Story Farm, 2021).
Photography by Scott Yates and Lisa Dahl.

Information: www.mariposasedona.com www.dahlrestaurantgroup.com

Follow: www.instagram.com/mariposa_sedona

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. www.theconnectedtable.com www.melanieyoung.com Instagram @theconnectedtable

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