“Cheeseburger” Salad with Special Sauce

OMG! This “Cheeseburger” Salad with Special Sauce is reminiscent of a Big Mac, but so much better. It’s totally plant-based and made with lentil walnut burger meat and a cashew cream sauce. 

Few things are better than seeing your friends succeed. My friend Megan of Detoxinista recently released her THIRD cookbook to the world (The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook) and I’m so excited to share a recipe from it today! 

I know a lot of people are making the recipes from my blog every day, but I still love cookbooks (and have a whole collection of them to prove it) so creating my own cookbook is still a goal – and I’m always so impressed by other bloggers who have made this happen.

Vegan cheeseburger salad-- romaine lettuce topped with lentil walnut "meat", vegan cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and a cashew cream special sauce. A folk is on the side of the plate.

You may remember when I shared this turkey cauliflower baked ziti from Megan’s second cookbook. It has been super popular so if you haven’t tried it yet, go check it out.

Megan and I have really similar food philosophies so I was extra excited to see another cookbook come out. Plus it’s all Instant Pot recipes, which has been so fun to experiment with!

While I don’t have a name-brand Instant Pot, I have the Pressure Cooker XL and it has the same functionality. We received this bad boy as a gift a few years ago and although I have shared one recipe (butternut squash and turkey chili), I haven’t fully explored pressure-cooker life yet.

Honestly, many of the Instant Pot recipes you find online aren’t super healthy, which is why Megan created this cookbook. Every recipe has nutrition info, a photo, a gluten-free/vegan option and all are made without refined sugar. The purpose of her cookbook is to help you eat better and spend less time in your kitchen. Love that!

Vegan cheeseburger salad-- romaine lettuce topped with lentil walnut "meat", vegan cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and a cashew cream special sauce. A folk is on the side of the plate.

Now about this cheeseburger salad . . . 

The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook actually has seven salad recipes in it! Who knew you could make salads with an Instant Pot? Not me.

I was instantly drawn to this “Cheeseburger” Salad with Special Sauce because it reminded me of a Big Mac, aka my go-to order at McDonald’s when I was younger. I know it’s crazy to imagine me ordering and eating a Big Mac with a supersized Dr. Pepper and fries that I dipped in honey, but it’s true. From Big Macs to Bird Food I guess. 🙂 

Vegan cheeseburger salad-- romaine lettuce topped with lentil walnut "meat", vegan cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and a cashew cream special sauce drizzled on top. A folk is on the side of the plate.

Megan’s “cheeseburger” salad actually doesn’t have beef in it at all… she created burger “meat” made from lentils, which I’m willing to bet will be a crowd favorite. If Meatless Monday isn’t going over too well in your home, you might just need to introduce this cheeseburger salad into your meal rotation. 😉

Vegan cheeseburger salad-- romaine lettuce topped with lentil walnut "meat", vegan cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and a cashew cream special sauce drizzled on top. A folk is on the side of the plate.

Thankfully, Megan broke down each step into really digestible instructions. If you have never used an Instant Pot before, this cookbook will definitely help you feel comfortable with it, and this recipe is a great one to start out with. You’ll practice both sautéing and pressure cooking in the Instant Pot, which are the two key features. Just a few simple steps results in six servings – so a simple family meal or easy meal prep/leftovers for your week! 

Do you own an Instant Pot? If so, please share your favorite healthy Instant Pot recipe below! If you own an Instant Pot and it’s been collecting dust, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Megan’s cookbook. There are so many awesome recipes included — everything from easy breakfasts to sweet treats. 

If you try this “cheeseburger” salad with special sauce be sure to leave a comment and star rating letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is super helpful for me and other EBF readers who are planning to try the recipe. 

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“Cheeseburger” Salad with Special Sauce


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Description

OMG! This “Cheeseburger” Salad with Special Sauce is reminiscent of a Big Mac, but so much better. It’s totally plant-based and made with lentil walnut burger meat and a cashew cream sauce. 


Ingredients

Burger “Meat”

  • 1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Special Sauce

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • chopped lettuce, tomatoes and green onions; pickle slices; and shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. To make the burger “meat,” press Sauté and add the olive oil to the Instant Pot. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Press Cancel to stop the cooking cycle.
  2. Stir in the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, and black pepper while the pot is still hot. Add the green lentils and water, and stir to make sure the lentils are covered in the liquid for even cooking. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are cooking make the special sauce. Drain and rinse the cashews, then add them to a blender with the water, vinegar, maple syrup, tomato paste, mustard, onion, powder, and salt. Blend until very smooth and set aside.
  4. White the cooking cycle on the burger “meat” is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, them move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating device valve drops, remove the lid and stir in the salt and chopped walnuts.
  5. Fill a bowl with chopped lettuce, the burger “meat,” tomatoes, green onions, pickles, and cheese. Drizzle plenty of the special sauce over the top before serving. Store leftovers in three separate airtight containers- – for the dressing, the burger “meat,” and the vegetables — in the fridge for 1 week.

Notes

  • Make it vegan: omit the cheddar cheese or use a dairy-free sub.
  • Make the burger “meat” without an Instant Pot: Cook lentils by adding 1 cup green lentils into a large saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a rapid simmer (almost boil), cover saucepan and reduce heat. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes, adding more water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. Once lentils are tender you can drain any access liquid. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt, black pepper and chopped walnuts while the pot is still hot. Once lentils are cooked, stir them in as well. Use the burger “meat” as instructed in the recipe.
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Pressure Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 salad with 2 tablespoons special sauce
  • Calories: 334
  • Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 17g
  • Protein: 16g

Keywords: cheeseburger salad

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    11 comments
  1. All of Megan’s cookbooks have AMAZNG recipes. You will feel so much better and you think you are not eating healthy food! I always say to myself if I find one good recipe that we love and add it to our monthly menu then it is worth the cost of the cookbook. These 3 cookbooks have so many delicious recipes loved by the whole family they have actually saved me money by not wanting to order out. They are super easy to make and you know you are making very healthy meals and snacks for your family without much effort.

  2. I made this recipe last night and we love it! I don’t have an Instant Pot but it was still super easy to make. One thing I found, however, the recipe makes a lot of special sauce. Next time I will half the quantity used in the recipe. For now I will see how it freezes. 🙂 This is definately a recipe I will serving to some of my “non-vegan” friends!

  3. I don’t comment very often, but this was worth a comment. The burger meat is meaty and delicious. The only additions I made was a clove of garlic and a couple dashes of worstcheshire sauce (I’m not vegan, but there is vegan worstcheshire). Absolutely delicious and satisfying without the heavy feeling you get after a burger. ???

  4. This was awesome. My husband was skeptical, but it was ultimately deemed “a repeat” – he said it was “as big-mac-esque as a non-meat meal could get.” I made mine more salad-y and he made his more like a hearty bowl, and we were both happy.

    • Totally. Here’s how I would do it: Cook the lentils by adding 1 cup green lentils into a large saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a rapid simmer (almost boil), cover saucepan and reduce heat. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes, adding more water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. Once lentils are tender you can drain any access liquid. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt, black pepper and chopped walnuts while the pot is still hot. Once lentils are cooked, stir them in as well. Use the burger “meat” as instructed in the recipe. Let me know if you try this, Brittany. 🙂

  5. I love my instant pot. My favorite recipes to do are chicken noodle soup, lentil chili, chicken salsa verde pozole (basically just chicken with green salsa made into a soup), thai peanut noodles with chicken, beef and barley soup, minestrone. Basically all the comfort food for winter.

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