Sometimes being a vegetarian means I have to get creative with protein sources. I’ve always liked lentils, and I’m in search for the perfect lentil fritters.
So when I saw the recipe for lentil “meatballs,” I was intrigued. I ran into problems, though. I had no breadcrumbs. Or ricotta. And I didn’t cook the lentils completely- because I had the wrong kind of lentils and they were about to become very mushy. So I threw in lentils and water (normally, lentils soak up water like crazy, but they also end up being almost a lentil puree!) and the resulting mixture was most definitely not going to be shaped into meatballs – it was way too wet and I didn’t want to put in more flour.
So I told my partner to have pizza on speed dial, just in case, and took a deep breath and heated up a cast iron pan, added some oil, and made lentil pancakes. They were surprisingly good and reminded me of lentil puffs at Vimala’s Curryblossom cafe.
To complete the Indian-themed dish, I roasted cumin cauliflower, made some raita, tossed some lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes together and used raita as a dressing.
Lentil “meatball” fritters, heavily modified from Sprouted Kitchen
- 2 cup cooked lentils (I used the orange kind- used in chana dal)*
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup goat cheese (Elodie Farms)
- 1/2 cup Greek nonfat yogurt
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
- 2 TB parsley or celery leaves
- fresh thyme
- 1 tsp salt (to start)
- 1 tsp freshly round pepper
- 2/3 or more cup gluten free flour (I use Bob’s red mill)
- Mix everything but the flour.
- Stir in the flour and add as much 1/3 cup as needed to get a pancake-like consistency (not watery, but a little thick and fluid. certainly not play-dough shape for meatballs).
- Add salt to adjust for the increased flour.
- Sprouted Kitchen says to let it sit for 20 minutes, but I was hungry and heated up a cast iron pan anyway. The batter at the bottom will have been sitting for 20 minutes 🙂 I used canola oil to cover the bottom surface of the pan.
- Use a small ladle to make small circles of lentil mixture. You can tell it’s ready to flip when you see edges darkening and the top bubbling a bit (like pancakes).
*To cook lentils, put 1 cup washed lentils into 2 cups water or broth, bring to a boil and simmer away 15-20 minutes. They will boil over if you aren’t watching the pot (ask me how I know).
Roasted Cumin Cauliflower, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped in florets
- 2 tb olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cauliflower florets in a baking dish in a single layer.
- Drizzle with olive oil until evenly coated. Add garlic, both cumins, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cauliflower has slightly browned. Toss/turn halfway through cooking if needed.
Raita (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking)
- 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 peeled kirby cucumbers, grated and divided
- 1 tb chocolate mint (any mint will do- it’s what I had in my garden)
- 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds (heat cumin seeds in a pan til fragrant or seeds turn brown)
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Put all but the one extra grated cucumber in a blender and blend til smooth.
- Stir in the other cucumber and mix well.
Suggestion: Toss with shredded lettuce, or eat it straight up- it’s cooling and refreshing for summer months.