Lentil Patties with Winter Vegetable Medley
This is one of those rare dishes where I don't miss eating meat. I used store-bought steamed black lentils and made little croquettes using leftover taro brioche I bought at the Asian market. After a brief pan-fry, I tossed them in a medley of winter vegetables. I tried to balance the mild sweetness from the brioche and caramelized onions with the earthy, savory flavors of the mashed lentils and grated Romano cheese. To complete the meal, I added Brussels sprouts, yellow bell peppers, asparagus and mushrooms, and a touch of Meyer lemon zest for a little brightness.
When I got married, I thought I was going to convert my husband Lulu and introduce meat and fish to his diet. Alas, it turned out slightly differently (by that I mean the exact opposite), since I have significantly reduced my consumption of meat and seafood. With dishes like this, I find I don’t miss meat as much as I thought I would.
Yields: 8 servings½ (16-ounce) package steamed French lentils, separated
2 slices taro brioche
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 clove fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fried yellow onions (see tips)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon liquid lecithin
¼ cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 teaspoon salt
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup asparagus spears, cut into quarters
1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
½ pound Brussels sprouts
Preparing the lentil patty mixture:
Soak the brioche in the milk.
Lightly oil the bowl of a food processor with a silicone brush. Add the lentils. Coarsely blend until a thick paste is formed. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Romano cheese and pulse 3-4 times. Transfer the lentil paste into a bowl.
In a bowl, combine the xanthan gum, 1 teaspoon of oil and liquid lecithin (or one lightly beaten egg, see tips). Add the xanthan gum / lecithin mixture to the mashed lentils. The mixture will thicken. Add the lemon zest, ¼ cup fried onions and mustard. Mix well.
Cooking the lentil patties:
Using an ice cream scoop, form lentil balls. Heat a large, non-stick pan with the oil. Once the oil is hot, place mounds of the lentil mixture into the hot pan. Make sure to space the lentil patties about 1 to 2 inches apart so they don't touch each other. Lower the heat to medium-high and pan-fry until golden. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until a golden crust is formed on the outer layer of the patties. Transfer to a cooling rack lined with paper towels. I cooked them in 2 batches and formed 16 patties.
Prepping the veggies:
Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and quarter them, lengthwise.
Place in a small pot and cover with just enough cold water to barely cover them. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Drain and remove as much liquid as possible.
Heat a little oil in a large pan. Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus, the Brussels sprouts, yellow bell pepper and mushrooms. Toss well and cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lentil patties and drizzle with lemon juice. Cook until the patties are warm. Garnish with more lemon zest.
Serve immediately or at room temperature.
For a vegan patty version, simply omit the Romano cheese and replace the milk with soy milk.
Xanthan gum is a fine powder used as a binder and emulsifier. If you look at the list of ingredients for salad dressings and ice cream at the supermarket, you'll find that they contain xanthan gum. I use it for texture and as an egg white substitute. You can find it online or in any specialty food store such as Whole Foods.
I use liquid lecithin as an egg yolk substitute. You can also find this online or in specialty food store like Whole Foods. You can replace both the xanthan gum and lecithin with one lightly beaten egg.
I used store-bought steamed black lentils from Trader Joe's.
You can find taro brioche in Asian stores such as Ranch 99.
How to caramelize onions: Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan. Add thinly sliced onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. To save time, I often have already-caramelized onions on hand in the freezer. I suggest making them in advance in large batches. Just place about 1 tablespoon of tightly packed fried onions per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn.
You could also store the remaining un-cooked lentil patties in the freezer. Using a tray, chill the patties (placing little squares of parchment underneath each patty) for about 1 hour in the freezer. Once hardened, stack the patties with the parchment squares between them to prevent them from sticking to each other. Place the stack in a large re-sealable bag (remove as much air as possible from the bag). The patties can be stored up to 1 month in the freezer. Don't forget to label your food with the date!
You could also serve these lentil patties in a sandwich.Published By: on March 6, 2012.