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Top Five Vegetarian Lunchbox Meals - 3 - Pan-fried Polenta Burger

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Sabine Schneider
Sabine Schneider

Pack a burger bun, the polenta and and a few slices of tomatoes and gherkin and a fried mushroom into your lunchbox and assemble the burger at work. Looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Pan-fried Polenta Burger
(makes four)
1 cup polenta (coarsely-ground dried maize kernels)
3 ¼ cups water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp oil (walnut oil is great for this)
optional: 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
4 burger buns
2 tbsp tomato sauce (alternatively use pesto, chutney, salsa, yoghurt etc)
slices of tomatoes and gherkins
Optional: four large portobello mushrooms (cut out stems and use for something else)
Bring the water to a boil, add salt and stir in polenta with a wooden spoon. Stir rapidly to avoid lumps. Turn heat to medium and wait until polenta bubbles up. Turn heat to low and keep on stirring. When it only bubbles occasionally, place a lid on the pan, but keep an eye on it and stir from time to time to prevent polenta sticking to the bottom. It needs to cook for at least 20 minutes. Add oil and optional cheese.
(If you're impatient you can opt for instant polenta. Cook according to packet instructions.)
With a rubber spatuala spread polenta on an oiled surface (for example your bench or a chopping board). Spread out to an even thickness of about 1 ½ cm. When cold, cut out shapes with a round cookie cutter.

Generously sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Fry the rounds in hot oil until golden. You can use a griddle pan for this. Fry mushroom if using.

Then assemble burger as follows:

Toast burger bun, spread with tomato sauce or other sauce of your choice. Place fried polenta disc on top. Place tomato and gherkin slices on polenta and top with mushroom if using. Spread with a little more sauce and top with second half of burger bun.

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