For the ketchup:
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
For the burgers:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 12 crimini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- A small handful of dried mushrooms, all porcini or mixed
- 2 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (for nuttier burgers) or cooked cold couscous (for softer burgers)
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup currants or raisins, chopped
- 1 egg
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- Ciabatta or other crusty rolls, split and lightly toasted
- Arugula, dressed lightly with lemon juice and EVOO
Combine the ketchup ingredients in a small pot and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to low and simmer to thicken to the consistency of ketchup, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon EVOO in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion and mushrooms and sauté to tender. Add the thyme and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook for a minute or two more, then turn off the heat and cool.
To a food processor bowl, add a few pieces of dried mushrooms. Process to finely chop, then add the lentils, quinoa or couscous, chickpeas, nuts and raisins. Season with salt and pepper and add the cooled, cooked vegetables. Pulse until well combined. Add the egg and pulse a few more times. Form six patties.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 5-6 minutes. Flip the burgers, cook for 2-3 minutes more, then add the cheese and tent the pan with foil to melt the cheese, 1-2 minutes. Serve on rolls with the greens and the Italian ketchup.
Note: For a vegan burger, omit the egg – be gentle when flipping the burgers so that they don't fall apart – and omit the cheese.