Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food. Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie. In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts. Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you. My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined. Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you. You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try. Let’s be bold and eat good food!
You may think that because you’re vegetarian, simply don’t eat seafood, or, you know, not wealthy, that caviar is out of your reach. But, let me tell you something I recently learned.
It’s not, because you can still have the caviar of lentils! Yes, I am serious.
Black lentils, also known as beluga lentils, are called such because they glisten like caviar. Or so the internet tells me, at least. I suppose I see it, though I’ve never actually been around caviar up close and personal, so I’ll take the internet’s word for it.
What I do know first hand is that these little legumes are delightful. Who needs caviar?! Not I, my friends, not I.
Now, being a HUGE fan of lentils, I have had green lentils, brown lentils, French lentils, and red lentils in a myriad of preparations, but this particular variety was new to me. I snagged a bag a couple of weeks ago when I saw them on a shelf at a local specialty market and they seemed to call my name. They were so pretty, so appealing, and just shouted out to come home with me.
So they did.
And a new saga in my lentil love affair was born.
I wasn’t quite sure how to best use them, so I did some perusing to see what others were whipping up with their black lentils. I found loads of salad recipes, some very tempting braised lentil creations, and a few soups, but when I came across the idea for lentils combined with edamame in a patty, I was sold.
The recipe required me to boil the lentils first, without any seasoning or other elements to start, which was perfect because it gave me a chance to see how they cooked up in their pure state. I was really VERY pleased with how this process went. They cooked quickly (20 minutes), but what was most remarkable to me was the final texture of these lentils when they were done. While red lentils can be quick to sort of fall apart during cooking (making them perfect for dal, in my opinion) and green or brown lentils can appear firm, but actually be a bit mushy to the touch if you don’t watch them carefully, these little gems held their texture amazingly well. They were still perfectly shaped when I drained them, and when I took a spoonful to taste they seemed to melt in my mouth. Absolutely dreamy, these lentils are. The taste sans seasoning was savory and earthy, as a good lentil should be.
Part of me was quite sad that I was about to toss them into a food processor and obliterate the sublime texture of the belugas. . . but I did it anyway.
As it turns out, they also make a mean patty. The patties I made held together well, were incredibly easy to prepare, shape, and bake and did a nice job at offering an eating experience that could best be compared to a falafel, I think, just . . . different. I personally would not call these a burger. The texture and overall experience is not one of a veggie burger to me, but definitely more of a falafel-like patty. The seasoning could be changed to suite your desired flavor profile, for sure, and they can be eaten as part of sandwich or wrap (others with me ate them in pitas) or sans bread on top of vegetables (as I did). And, while they held their shape and consistency really well, they crumble nicely, too, so that’s a whole other world of possibilities.
In this meal the lentils definitely melded into the other ingredients and simply became part of an overall dish, so I am actually looking forward to making them again when they can stand on their own and I can enjoy their nicely cooked texture once again. I’m thinking served on top of some rice and seasoned generously with spicy flavors.
This was a truly exciting find for me. While many of the things I have tried so far in my Foodie Firsts adventures will be eaten again from time to time, I foresee these becoming a regular event.
Notes & Final Thoughts:
Serving Suggestions: As you can likely tell, I recommend the recipe below for black lentil & edamame patties. In addition to that, though, I really think these would be fantastic boiled for 20 minutes to soften and then added to some sautéed veggies (onion, garlic, peppers, maybe carrot) with some of your favorite herbs & spices tossed in. This preparation would allow you to experience them in more of a pure state.
Lessons Learned: I love how just when you’ve think you’ve got something figured out (in this case, the humble lentil), you can always discover there is more to learn. This week’s venture reminded me that the world of food is truly limitless when it comes to options and varieties. While I could have happily gone the rest of my days with the standard green, brown, and red lentils filling my plate, discovering this other variety with a personality all its own was a lesson to me to continue looking for new experiences and not to just move through my cooking and eating life with a narrow focus on what I already know. This is one lesson that I will surely be keeping with me beyond the kitchen as well.
Adapted from Quiche-A-Week
Makes 12 small patties
1 ½ cups of black lentils, cooked and drained (about ¾ cup dry)
1 ½ cups shelled edamame, defrosted
1 cup finely ground corn meal
3 tblspns nutritional yeast
1 ½ tblspn Ener-G egg replacer + 6 tblspns water (or the equivalent egg/egg replacement option for 3 large eggs)
1 tspn chili powder
½ tspn kosher salt
½ tspn onion powder
½ tspn garlic powder
¼ tspn black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees & prepare your baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
- Combine cornmeal and nutritional yeast in a small bowl and toss together until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, prepare your egg replacer and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine defrosted edamame, cooked lentils, salt, pepper, chili, onion, and garlic powders. Pulse until ingredients are broken down and combined. You can leave some chunks of edamame and lentils if you like them for texture or puree until mostly smooth.
- Remove lentil mixture from food processor and combine with the prepared egg replacer in the large bowl. Work the egg replacer into the mixture with your hands (you could use a spoon, it’s just not quite as efficient). Then, in batches, pour in the combined cornmeal and nutritional yeast and work that into the mix. ** I recommend adding this in batches because you may find you don’t need as much of it as I did (it may vary depending how much moisture came out of your lentils and edamame). Add and incorporate until the moisture is well absorbed and the mixture will hold together.
- To form 12 small patties, scoop a ¼ cup of the mix into your hands, squeeze/pat together to form a patty and place onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
** We ate these with a variety of sauce toppings, too. I enjoyed Annie’s barbecue sauce, garlic sauce was also a hit, and mustard wasn’t bad, either!