Sunday, December 4, 2011

Golden Lentil Cakes and Rainbow Carrot Coins

The new Whole Foods that has opened by my office has become a fun place for me to play during my lunch hour.  I am especially enjoying the bulk aisle and wondering why I haven't spent more time there.  Not only is the pricing better than the packaged goods, but I can control the quantity of food that I buy and only buy the amount I need for any given cooking experiment.  Also, the variety is excellent.

This week's bulk aisle find for me were petite golden lentils, which are teeny tiny little lentils with a bright yellow hue.  When I googled them to get ideas, I mostly came up with soups, but I decided to do something a little different.

Since the lentils were so tiny, I thought it might be fun to mix them with a bunch of veggies and form a patty.   Since I was craving stuffing today for some reason, I decided to also incorporate the flavors I associate with that dish, namely celery and sage.

While I normally just describe what I cook, I actually put together some semblance of a recipe this time, which I will post below after a few notes.

One thing I did do here in 1)the name of experimentation and 2)to keep this recipe vegan, was to use Ener-G Egg Replacer as a binder.   This product is a mix of potato starch and tapioca starch, and, when mixed with warm water in the correct ratio, can function as an egg for both cooking and baking.  Thus, it's a great option for folks who are allergic to eggs, vegan or who prefer not to eat eggs.  I actually found it to be a more reliable binder than using a real egg - my patties held together quite well!

Unfortunately, the local market was out of fresh sage, so I made do with ground.

I also made a pan sauce for the patties to add additional moisture using the leftover sauteed veg, a minced shallot, vegan bouillon and lots of soy-free Earth Balance.  The brand of bouillon I used was Rapunzel, which is one of the few bouillon cubes I've found that's soy-free.

As a side dish, I made rainbow carrot coins.  My local market was selling bunches of orange, yellow, red and purple carrots, which I thought would be a fun side for the patties.  While they lost some of their vibrant color when I peeled them (especially the purple ones), they were still pretty.  I sliced them in to coins, mixed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them for 30 minutes at 425.

And, without further ado, here's my lentil cake recipe!

Golden Lentil Cakes

 Makes 12 cakes (3-4 cakes per serving)

For the cakes:
2 cups of cooked petite golden lentils (For a lesson on preparing cooking lentils, click here)
3 small leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 celery ribs, minced
1 cup of grated carrot, chopped
Ground or fresh sage, to taste
Fresh thyme to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
2+ tablespoons of Earth Balance
1 cup of whole wheat panko bread crumbs
2.5 tsp Energ-G Egg Replacer plus 2 tbsp warm water (2 eggs, beaten, can also be substituted)
Cooking spray

For the sauce:

1 cube of vegan bouillon
1/2 large shallot, minced
3+ tablespoons of Earth Balance
Fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Saute the lentils, celery and carrot in earth balance for 10 minutes, or until translucent.  Season throughout cooking with sage, thyme, salt and pepper.  Spoon cooked vegetable mixture into a bowl and set aside Reserve the same pan, including any stuck on cooked bits, for your sauce.

In a small pot, boil two cups of water.  Add in bouillon cube, stir and remove from heat.  Take the pan you cooked the vegetables in and add shallot and one tablespoon of the Earth Balance.  When shallot is lightly browned, pour bouillon into the pan and cook on medium heat.  Stir in more Earth Balance and fresh parsley throughout cooking, until sauce reduces (Mine took about 30 minutes to get where I wanted it.)

Meanwhile, if using Ener-G, combine the powder and water in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  Combine lentils, cooked vegetables, fresh parsley and panko.  Stir in Egg Replacer or eggs.  Form the mixture into small cakes.   Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray.  On medium high heat, brown each side of the cakes (about 3 minutes per side - your mileage may vary.  Cook a bit longer if using egg to ensure it cooks through).  Once cakes are browned, put them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Serve warm, with sauce spooned over top.

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