Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lentil Fritter Pitas with Slaw

Red lentils are tricky little suckers.  I have yet to make a pot of them that have been cooked correctly.  I always get some that are too mushy.  Luckily for me it doesn't matter in this recipe. 
Despite my inability to cook them correctly, I love to use lentils.  They cook up quickly and you can use them in so many recipes.  I really appreciate that you don't have to soak lentils like many beans (i.e. no planning required).  Lentils are high in protein, iron, B vitamins, and fiber.  This makes them an excellent addition to any vegetarian meal.

I've made this recipe several times and every time I eat way too much.  The combination of earthy lentils, tangy slaw, and creamy sauce keep me coming back for more!  

Unfortunately my kids don't agree.  

It's quite clear how Aidric felt about his dinner.

And Kota dumped her pita out and only ate the bread...

But I'll keep trying, someday they'll eat it! Right?? 

You can find the original recipe here from Real Simple.  Read below for the changes I made.

- I made my own lentils in about 15 minutes.  Not only are they much cheaper than canned lentils but they are safer too.  I try not to use canned beans and veggies since many cans have a BPA lining that can leach into your food.  Even organic canned foods can have BPA linings- yuck!  You can read a recent article here.  If you are going to buy canned lentils look for a brand that is BPA free. I used one cup of dry red lentils and it worked out great as a substitution for the two cans that are called for in the recipe.  

- I added two extra cloves of garlic  to the lentil mix.  I love garlic so the more the merrier. 

-I made the lentil fritters gluten free by substituting gluten free bread crumbs.  Store bought gluten free bread crumbs are usually just a mix or corn meal and rice flour.  I've used them in recipes before and they dont work well.  I like to make my own bread crumbs from some gluten free bread.  Tonight i used udi's whole grain gluten free bread.  I used one slice plus both of the end pieces- because no one wants to eat those anyway.  I popped them in the toaster straight from the freezer and toasted until they were really crispy.  I let them cool for a few minutes and them popped them in the bullet.  You could use a blender or food processor or blender for this but the bullet is perfect for this amount.  By shear luck I ended up with exactly 1/2 a cup.  You can make the whole recipe gluten free by using gluten free pitas or making your own.

-I recommend cooking these little guys over medium heat instead of the medium high recommend in the recipe.  I found that they began to stick to the pan and burn at that temperature.

- make extra slaw!  The acidy slaw is a great counterpoint to the lentils.  I even like to put more slaw than lentil into my pita.  I recommend doubling the recipe.

- The same goes for the sauce- double the recipe!  I also like add some grated cucumber or lemon zest to the sauce to give it a little more flavor.  You can also make it dairy free by using soy or coconut Greek yogurt.  I chose to make the sauce with regular yogurt since I knew the kids weren't going to eat it.

If you're looking for a really good vegetarian recipe try this for dinner tonight!

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