Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lentil-Walnut Burgers with Mint Yogurt Sauce

In planning our meals for the week, my new goal is to have at least one vegetarian meal on the menu. The trick is to have Joe not necessarily notice that it's vegetarian so no giant piles of vegetables. It's not that Joe is particularly picky because he's not, but he is a big guy and needs his protein. Cue lentils. Containing high protein levels, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and minerals, lentils are a great meat substitute. When I saw this recipe on Liz's Cooking Blog (side note: Liz's blog is awesome and has so many great, quick, and tasty weekday meal recipes that even a baby cook like me can master) I knew it would be a perfect veggie night recipe.

Plus, I would get to break out this baby for the first time:

Originally, the recipe calls for a cilantro yogurt sauce, but when I went to the grocery store there was no cilantro to be had. That was fine because I was looking for an excuse to use my latest purchase:

Please give a nice warm welcome to my mint plant, purchased at the Nashville Farmers Market. We're still working on coming up with a name for him. Suggestions are welcome.

Okay, enough of that. On to the recipe.

Lentil-Walnut Burgers with Mint Yogurt Sauce (from Everyday Food via Liz's Cooking Blog)

  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, cooled
  • 1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (We prefer things on the spicy side, so I used a touch more)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup lentils, cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • pita bread (I used whole wheat)
For the sauce:
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I used mint leaves.)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. In a food processor, combine walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; process until finely ground. Add lentils and 1 tablespoon oil; pulse until coarsely chopped (some lentils should remain whole).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg. Add lentil mixture; mix well. Divide into 4 equal-size parts; roll into balls, and flatten with the palm of your hand into 3/4-inch-thick patties.
  3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add burgers; cook over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, turning gently with a thin-edged spatula, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
  4. Prepare sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, cilantro, and lemon; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve lentil-walnut burgers in pita bread; drizzle with sauce.

I served this with red onion and fresh tomato slices and a spinach salad. This was a very tasty dish. It's similar to falafel and could also be served in lieu of chicken or lamb on top of a Greek salad. Next time I will make the patties slightly thinner and not over-process the ingredients, which I think I did trying to get the hang of my food processor. It was still delicious though!