Maverick Life


Start 2021 on an eco-friendly note with these Healthy Planet Burgers

Start 2021 on an eco-friendly note with these Healthy Planet Burgers
Nassimer Rothacker/The Reading List

Eat to Save the Planet by Annie Bell is chock-full of simple, tempting recipes that support the environment and don’t make you feel like you’re missing out.

If the way we eat globally continues, the world is at risk of failing to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. From extreme weather patterns to raging wildfires, it’s little wonder that more of us than ever are worried about the environmental impact of our food decisions.

The easy, family-friendly recipes in Eat to Save the Planet follow recommendations from the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet, written by an international group of scientists.

This flexitarian reference diet is so simple, easily accessible and tempting that you will hardly believe you’re helping to save the planet as you eat.

The mainstays of the Planetary Health Diet are plant-based foods, but while these ingredients are central to its recommendations, the diet doesn’t go as far as being vegetarian or vegan. Recipes in the book include modest quantities of seafood and poultry, with a small amount of red meat being optional – as in this recipe – making this new approach to eating achievable and realistic for everyone.


Healthy Planet Burgers

Serves 4
Ready in 25 minutes

For the burgers

  • 300g lean minced beef
  • 300g cooked green lentils
  • 2 heaped tbsp finely chopped shallots
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying

To serve

  • ½ red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 cocktail gherkins, sliced
  • 4 wholemeal burger buns, halved
  • English mustard
  • tomato ketchup
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced

These burgers go down the half-beef, half-lentil route, and they are every bit as satisfying as a pure beef burger. Extras of fried onions, grated cheese, sliced lettuce, or salsa and guacamole for a fiesta, are also good. Personally, I like to eat these sandwiched between crisp lettuce leaves rather than a bun, but over to you.

  1. Place the beef, lentils, shallots and some seasoning in a food processor and whizz to a sticky mixture, so some of the lentils remain whole. Shape the mixture into 8 burgers using a 9cm (3½in) plain round cutter. If you want you can make them in advance, then cover and chill them.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat and fry the burgers, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side until an even gold, replenishing the oil as necessary. They burn more easily than a pure meat burger, so keep an eye.
  3. Combine the sliced onion and gherkins.
  4. If serving the burgers with buns, toast the cut side of the buns under a grill, preheated to high. Place a burger on each bun half, smear some mustard over and then plenty of tomato ketchup, or the mustard mayo (opposite). Next, lay over a slice of tomato and season, then scatter over some sliced onion and gherkin.

Mustard mayo

  • 40g mayonnaise
  • 40g soured cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Blend all the ingredients in a small bowl, cover and chill until required. This will keep well for several days.


Variation: Vegan Burgers

Serves 4
Ready in 35–40 minutes

  • 50g coarse bulgur wheat
  • approximately 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 aubergine (approximately 250g), cut into 1cm (½in) dice
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 x 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 50g sesame seeds

These are at their finest sandwiched between a couple of crisp lettuce leaves with some sliced tomato, and soft herbs, such as parsley, coriander and mint leaves, that will add a lively note.

  1. Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil and cook the bulgur for 5 minutes to leave it on the chewy side, then drain into a sieve and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over high heat and fry the aubergine for 6-8 minutes until golden and translucent, stirring frequently, and adding the shallot, spices and 1 teaspoon of oil a couple of minutes before the end.
  3. Place this in a food processor with the beans, lemon juice and some seasoning and whizz to a coarse purée. Transfer this mixture to a bowl, and work in the bulgur and coriander. Leave the mixture to cool.
  4. Shape the mixture into 4 burgers using an 8cm (3¼in) plain round cutter. Scatter the sesame seeds over a small plate and coat the burgers on each side; you may get a few on the edges but there is no need to coat these thoroughly. Transfer them to a large plate or tray as they are ready. If you chill them in advance of cooking they will firm up – they can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
  5. To cook the burgers, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden, adding 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan when you turn them. DM/ML

Eat to Save the Planet: 85 Recipes and Ideas for Eco-Friendly Cooking and Eating is published by Pan Macmillan (R360). Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.


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