"To come up with topping ideas for vegetarian burgers, I think of a big bowl of plain rice—what could I add to that bowl that would taste delicious?" chef Nancy Silverton says. Sharp cheeses like the shredded white Cheddar pictured here are a good option, as are roasted red peppers. These toppings can also give a flavor-boost to store-bought veggie burgers or grilled portobello mushrooms.

Serves 4


Note: Freshly cooked brown rice is sticky and helps hold together the burgers. For a richer flavor, omit the soy sauce and stir in 1 Tbsp. white miso paste instead.
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown or green lentils
  • 3/4 pound mixed shiitake and cremini mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, preferably golden
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted oat bran or wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped thyme
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely grated aged white Cheddar (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves
  • 4 whole grain hamburger buns, split and toasted


Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 9 hours (includes soaking time)

Place 1 cup water and lentils in a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Drain lentils and pulse in a food processor until ground. (Stop just shy of turning the lentils into a paste.) Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Pulse mushrooms in a clean food processor until finely chopped. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add to the bowl of lentils, then add rice, flaxseeds, bran, thyme, remaining 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and scallions. Fold together until combined. Using wet hands, press mixture firmly into 4 (5-inch) patties.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, pan-fry patties, gently flipping once, until deep golden brown and hot throughout, about 10 minutes total.

During the last few minutes of cooking, top burgers with cheese. Arrange lettuce and burgers on buns and serve.

You Can Also Try These Toppings:
  • Teriyaki sauce and shredded lettuce
  • Soy cheese and avocado
  • Smoked mozzarella with any type of pickled vegetable


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