Please won’t you be my.. Veggie Burger?

…So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my..
Veggie Burger?

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood reigns as the longest-running television show on public television.  I loved it as a child and had the good fortune of enjoying it as an adult with my own children.  What you might not know is that Fred Rogers, in addition to being a beloved icon, ordained minister and all-around saint, was also a… (wait for it…) vegetarian! Of course! Mister Rogers was always promoting healthy-eating on his show.

Today’s Meatless Monday recipe is adapted from Mister Rogers’ Playbook.  I found a copy of it years ago, (appropriately) while visiting the Please Touch Museum with my daughters. I sat thumbing through the book while the ladies were occupied with an exhibit and was so impressed by this recipe, I jotted it down on a scrap of paper which I’ve kept all these years.

As written the burgers are vegetarian, but vegans (like my dad) can easily replace the eggs using a combination of 2 tablespoons ground flax seed and 6 tablespoons water.  Simply mix together in a bowl and let sit for a few minutes to gel, then add as you would regular eggs.

Unlike commercial veggie burgers, which may contain over 600 mg sodium per serving, these are so low in sodium you can enjoy seconds and even thirds.  Given all those lentils, though, I’d advise you against going too crazy.  The only downside?  Making these requires an investment of time (most of it hands-off) so you may need to save them for the weekend.  Plus side?  They freeze beautifully and the recipe yields TEN big burgers!

As for the actual cooking, get everything ready while the lentils are simmering.  Once they’re done, drain, then mix everything together and shape into patties.  The burger mixture will be soft and a bit sticky. I find it easiest to scoop out using a 1/2 cup measure, then pat and form quickly. Place the formed burgers on a baking sheet lined with parchment. This makes it easy to pop the baking sheet into the oven as soon as the chill time is over, or conversely, freeze the patties and store for later use.  PS: No added fat!

The baked burgers are TASTY! (all caps) as well as healthy, filling and delectably moist. I like to eat mine on wheat bread, slathered with (salt-free) ketchup and mustard, but they also make a terrific topping for pizza (just chop and top), filling for grilled sandwiches, and more. The recipe yields ten “beefy” sized burgers, so there’s plenty to enjoy!

HUGE THANKS, once again, to my friends at Quaker Oats for sponsoring today’s post!

Yields 10 burgers.

SODIUM CONTENT: 26 mg per burger (with eggs; less without)


1 1/2 c. dried lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. (4 oz.) fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
1 small bell pepper. cored, seeded and chopped
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 t. no-salt-added chili seasoning
1/2 t. ground mustard
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt-free seasoning (such as Benson’s Table Tasty, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, or Olde Thompson Organic Salt-Free Seasoning)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 beaten eggs (or equivalent, see note above)
5 T. salt-free tomato paste
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (salt-free bread crumbs or wheat germ could also be used)


Rinse lentils well and place in a saucepan. Add 4-5 cups of water. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer 45 minutes, until lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery, carrot, green pepper and walnuts in a nonstick skillet until soft.

Remove pan from heat and transfer contents to a large mixing bowl. Add lentils and seasonings and stir to combine. Add the beaten eggs (or equivalent), tomato paste, oats (or alternative). Mix well. The mixture should be fairly solid.

Scoop the mixture out using a 1/2 cup and shape into patties. Place patties onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate 1 hour. (NOTE: Patties may be made ahead, wrapped and kept refrigerated or frozen for later use.)

To cook, position an oven rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place baking sheet on top rack in oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, very gently flip burgers (they will be soft and delicate) and return to oven, baking 10 minutes more. Remove baking sheet from oven and let burgers rest 5-10 minutes to firm up. Once cool, the burgers become very firm but while hot they’re pretty fragile, so be careful!

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