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Tags: lentil, Turkish, bulgur

Vegan Turkish Red Lentil Kofte

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Little vegan Turkish lentil balls.  Great in a sandwich on rye toast with lettuce.

Vegans have a an ongoing need to find new ways to make lentils fun and interesting. By themselves, these little nutritional powerhouses of protein and fibre can be a tad bland, but fortunately lentils have an ability to blend in beautifully with their surroundings. In the case of the Turkish finger-food known as "mercimek koftesi" the lentils are surrounded by a simple but delightful combination of flavours—tomato, onion, lemon, cumin and parsley. Bulgur provides some cohesion and a lovely contrast in texture.

The internet is full of recipes—try an image search to see some beautiful variations on this simple theme. The differences between most recipes are just small tweaks in the ingredient proportions. After you make it a few times, you'll no doubt adjust the proportions yourself for greater personal enjoyment. These kofte make a great vegan appetizer on a platter, but to make a complete meal, try three or four on rye toast with lettuce. Pure satisfaction.


1 cup red lentils, rinsed

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup fine bulgur

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

3 Tbl tomato paste

2 Tbl lemon juice

1/2 tsp cumin

3 green onions, greens only, finely chopped

1/4 cup curly parsley leaves, finely chopped

leaf lettuce for serving


Note: This is one of those dishes where it's a good idea to fill the sink up with water before starting. If you give the pots and utensils a little rest before cleaning them, you may find that the remnants been welded in place. I try to wash each dish and utensil as soon as I finish with it. Besides the whole stitch-in-time-saves-nine thing, I get a little psychological boost from having the dishes already drying on the rack as I'm finishing the recipe.

Add rinsed lentils along with 2 1/2 cups water to a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

adding lentils to pot

After 10 minutes, turn off heat, add bulgur and salt, mix lightly, then replace cover and allow to cool. (The mixture will still be fairly wet at this point, but don't worry.)

adding bulgur to pot bulgur mixed with lentils

Heat up the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add chopped onion and cook well, stirring periodically until soft, 10-15 minutes.

adding onion to skillet

Turn off heat and mix in cumin, tomato paste and lemon juice.

onion mixture with tomato paste, lemon juice and cumin

Allow to cool about 15 minutes, then mix in lentil bulgur mixture.

adding lentils and bulgur mixture mixing lentils and bulgur with onion mixture onions, lentils and bulgur mixed together

While this mixture continues to cool, clean and chop the green onions and parsley.

chopped green onion

Add green onions and parsley to mixture and mix well.

adding green onions and parsley to mixture

It will probably be necessary to mix with your hands to get everything homogeneous.

final kofte mixture

Get a small bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers moist, and make small cigar-shaped kofte about 3 inches long and about an inch thick.

Serve on a bed of leaf lettuce. You can use extra lettuce to make kofte tacos if you like. They are quite enjoyable and surprisingly filling. Or use the lettuce with some rye toast to make kofte meatloaf sandwiches. They are ridiculously tasty.

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2016

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