Guest Author - Angela Thornton-Millard
Lentils are a healthy and low-fat way to add protein to your diet. One-half cup of cooked lentils has 115 calories, almost 9 grams of protein and less than half a gram of fat. Lentils are also a cholesterol-free food and have almost no sodium. One-half cup of lentils also provides almost 8 grams of fiber, 365 milligrams of potassium and nearly 19 milligrams of calcium.
In addition to being healthy, these small legumes have an amazingly meaty texture. And, they cook much faster than other dried beans which makes them a great choice if you have procrastinated on menu planning. You can replace ground meat in most recipes with cooked lentils. Lentils do not have a strong flavor, so they adapt well to many different cooking flavors.
Here's a recipe for lentil burgers to get you started using these amazing beans. This recipe will have wide appeal. The recipe is vegan, but even meat-lovers will be satisfied because of the meaty texture of the lentils. This recipe is also versatile. Much like ground beef, you can form the mixture into patties or balls. You could even add some rice and use it to stuff peppers or burritos. If you don't like the spices, substitute with some soy sauce and ginger for a more Asian flavor. This recipe makes a pretty large batch, but you can keep the burgers in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze them for a night when you need a quick, healthy dinner.
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
3/4 cup rolled oats, finely ground
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Combine the lentils and water in a saucepan. Let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft.
While the lentils are cooking, chop the onion and carrot. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté the carrots, onions and garlic about 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats to a flour-like consistency.
Combine the lentils, vegetables, spices, oats and bread crumbs in a large bowl. Mix well to evenly distribute the spices. At this point you are ready to form the mixture into patties or meatballs. If the mixture seems dry, you can add a splash of water to get the consistency you need to form patties. Once the burgers are formed, you can fry them in a skillet for 2 to 3 minutes or bake them in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes.
Serve the burgers by themselves or on a multi-grain bun with onion slices, tomato and lettuce. You can use lentil meatballs to create a vegetarian meatball sub or serve with spaghetti. Crumble a leftover burger over a bed of greens for lunch the next day. Enjoy!