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Lentil Cakes Recipe with Greek Yogurt Sauce

I’ve found myself making even more ethnic food lately.  I’ve just really been enjoying it.  The inspiration for this lentil cake recipe started when my friend Katherine gave me a bag of lentils.  This was among quite a few other grain and starches she was purging from her pantry (going starch and sugar-free – good for her!).  Next question to myself was – what to do with them???

So I’m not a huge fan of just cooking lentils and eating them like a stew. But I do like their inherent flavor.  My mind wandered to using them like chickpeas and I figured that they’d make a good patty or cake.  Hence, the lentil cakes recipe!

Lentil Cakes with Creamy Greek Yogurt Sauce Recipes

Jeremy and I debated on whether we should call this recipe lentil patties or lentil cakes. In my mind, when I substituted the word crab for lentil, “cake” seemed like a clear choice at that point. So we decided on lentil cakes since these are pretty small discs – about an inch across. Similar to a small crab cake!

The beginning inspiration for these cakes came to me via an epicurious.com recipe.  I used the basic ratio and soaking method that they used for the lentils and rice and took it from there creating my own seasoning formula and my own recipe for the yogurt dip.

So let’s look at some of the key ingredients in this recipe and learn a little more about them.  The basis for these cakes are brown lentils and basmati rice.  What I found most interesting is that neither had to be pre-cooked prior to making the patties, but they did need to be soaked for about three hours in a copious amount of water.

When I really thought about it, it made sense.  Soaking lentils and rice softens the starches and allows them to be cooked pretty quickly, as we’re going to do below. Both of these items usually take between 25-30 minutes to cook stove top…Which brings me to this point – when the rice cooks in these cakes, it is not soft and fluffy.  It retains a little of its crispiness but is not what you’d consider hard or inedible.  It’s a pleasant crunch.

Basmati rice is recommended here because it’s a fragrant aromatic rice and imparts a nice flavor.  I used brown lentils mainly because it’s what I had on had.  Feel free to substitute another color lentil if you’d like. I might stay away from red lentils though since they are smaller and may turn mushier than needed for this recipe.  If anyone does try this with red lentils, let me know how it came out.

I really like using Greek yogurt as a dressing and sauce.  The low moisture content makes it very thick and tangy.  The perfect base for a creamy dressing.  In this recipe, I added a few spices, some lime juice and zest and that’s it.  I kept it simple overall.  If you’d like to punch it up a bit, you could add chopped cilantro or sliced green onions.  There’s no right or wrong way to do this sauce.

Tips:

  • When you are shaping the cakes, the lentil cake mixture will be moist and sort of messy.  This is how it’s supposed to be.  It will dry out as it cooks.
  • If you don’t have a  one ounce scoop, feel free to use a regular large dining spoon.  They have similar capacities.
  • If you don’t have basmati rice, feel free to substitute regular long grain rice.  It will produce comparable results.
  • The spices in this recipe can be tailored to your taste or pantry stock.  This is simply the combination of ingredients I used when I made the dish.
  • To make this recipe gluten-free, reduce the olive oil to 1/3 c and omit the flour.  If the batter feels a little dry, add a touch more olive oil.

Now, the recipes…

Yield: 2 dozen cakes (4 servings)

Lentil Cakes Recipe with Greek Yogurt Sauce

An easy vegetarian recipe for lentil cakes. Served with arugula and a creamy, tangy Greek yogurt sauce. Recipe serves four.

Ingredients:

Lentil Cakes:

  • 1 cup dried lentils, preferably Camellia Brand
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion, tops and bottoms mixed
  • 1 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Greek Yogurt Sauce:

  • 2 cups Greek-style yogurt
  • zest of one lime
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice (one large or two small limes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Additional Finishing Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 8 cups arugula – 2 cups for each serving

Method:

Greek Yogurt Sauce:

  1. While the lentils are soaking, prepare the yogurt sauce.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a  bowl and chill in fridge until ready to use.

Preparing the Lentil Cakes:

  1. Pre-soak the lentils and rice for 3 hours covered with about 3 inches of water.
  2. Once done, drain the water in a fine colander.
  3. Add the lentils and rice to a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and spices for the lentil cakes, EXCEPT for the olive oil and flour.
  4. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the olive oil.  Stop the food processor and scrape sides as needed.
  5. If you have a  small food processor, you may need to do this in two or more batches.
  6. Once all the ingredients and oil are throughly mixed, transfer to a bowl and fold in the flour gently by hand.
  7. Using a one-ounce scoop, shape the mixture into small round cakes.  Set on a plate or platter until ready to cook.

Cooking the Lentil Cakes:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Place up to 8 patties in the skillet and cook 2 minutes on the first side.
  3. Carefully flip with a turning spatula and cook 1 minute second side.
  4. Set to cool slightly on a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat process with remaining batter.  You may need to add more oil as you go.  Likely on the last batch.

Plating the Salad:

  1. Place 2 cups of arugula toward the back of a dinner plate.
  2. Lay out 6 lentil cakes on the front side of the plate.
  3. Using a serving spoon or ladle, place 1/2 c of yogurt sauce in the center – serves as a dip and a salad dressing.

Prep:30 min

Cook:15 min

Total:3 hour 45 min

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