When it comes to lentils, I have to come clean. Speaking very personally here, I have horrible memories of eating them when I was younger (okay a lot younger). And, I admit to being guilty of carrying that, ahem, slight prejudice against them into my adult life. The thought of lentils brought shivers up my spine - tasteless, mushy and generally very unappealing are words that come to mind when I remember this dinner option, either in the form of a patty or loaf. It would be shoved to the side of my plate and ignored for the duration of the meal, if at all possible.
But I have had an epiphany in later years and, thanks to the East Indian culture, different versions of curried lentils were part of my making peace with the past. But the lentil need not be restricted to just curry companionship. Take for example, the recipe I am going to give you if you keep reading!
Being a nutritionist working with individuals with different dietary needs and preferences, I realize the many virtues of this small innocent pulse that comes in a variety of colors even to choose from!
Perhaps you are one of those people who already know the many attributes they boast of: quick and easy to cook, inexpensive, versatile in how you can serve them (loaves, patties, soups, dahls), low in calories and guess what - they are good for you!
Just like their cousin, the black bean, they provide an excellent source of fiber and protein, help with digestion, maintain blood sugar levels, and help lower cholesterol levels. However, as far as convenience, if starting from scratch, they are much faster to cook than other beans because of their small, lens-like shape and size.
This recipe is adapted from Megan Telpner's website; I changed some of the ingredients and left out the BBQ sauce. I am planning on serving this with a creamy vegan mushroom sauce instead (recipe in the works).
Add the chia seeds to a small bowl and pour water over them. Stir well and set aside for about 5 minutes in order to form a soft gel-like substance.
In a food processor, add oats and grind until coarsely ground before adding 1/2 cup of cooked lentils. Mix well before adding to a large mixing bowl. Add the chia seed mixture and mix together.
In a medium pan, heat the oil and sauté onions, garlic, celery and eggplant for about 8-10 minutes or until everything is soft and cooked.
Add this to the mixing bowl, followed by remaining cooked lentils (1-1/2 cups) spices, raw kale, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, 6 tablespoons of ground almonds, sunflower seeds and grated apple. Mix well and adjust for taste - you might need more salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to get to your liking. *I added the butter for a bit of flavor but if you are vegan this can be foregone.
Press mixture into a parchment-lined glass baking dish. I brushed a bit of olive oil (1/2 tablespoon or less) on the paper just to be on the safe side. I sprinkled 2 tablespoons of ground almonds on top and placed in the oven for 30 minutes. The top was browned and starting to crack but a toothpick inserted came out in clean. You don't want to dry it out by overcooking.
I plan to make a mushroom sauce with unsweetened almond milk to drizzle over it!