You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lentil Walnut Burgers and Carrot Fries

I feel like I pulled a big one over on my kids tonight. They (happily!) ate lentils, mushrooms, spinach and carrots tonight. The carrots they'll eat anytime but the others are definitely not part of their regular fare.

I got the lentil burger recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. I scanned it a few times over the last year but we don't generally keep mushrooms, spinach or walnuts in the house so I never attempted it. I'm in the process of redoing our dinner menus hoping to reduce the amount meat we eat so we can rely more on our garden this summer and lower our food bill. Anyhoo, I decided to give this a whirl.

Now it didn't turn out exactly as it should have and I had to make a minor modification - but - even Pickypants Hank scarfed down three of them. So here goes

Notes: *You can saute the veggies while the lentils cook. *The burgers can be made up to several days in advance and stored in teh fridge until just before cooking. *Uncooked burgers can be individually wrapped and frozen just defrost before cooking

3/4 cup dry lentils
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs peanut or olive oil (I used canola and it worked fine)
1 cup finely minced onion
4 to 5 large cloves garlic, finely minced
about 10 large mushroom, minced
1/2 cup very finely minced walnuts
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb fresh spinach, finely minced (I used just over 1/2 of a 9 ounce bag)
1 tsp dry mustard (I meant to use this but forgot)
fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs or wheat germ (we obviously passed on these!)

1)place lentils and water in a small suacepan and bring to a boil. lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is gone. transfer to a medium bowl, add the vinegar and mash well. (I don't think I mashed mine enough)

2)heat oil in a medium skillet, add onions and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. add all remaining ingredients except wheat germ or bread crumbs. Saute 5-10 minutes or until all the veggies are tender. add the saute and crumbs to the lentils and mix well. chill for about 1 hour before forming patties.

3)form 4 inch diameter burgers. fry in a small amount of hot oil on both sides until heated through and crispy on the outside, or broil for 5-8 minutes on each side.

So mine didn't hold together very well at all and my first batch (6 burgers), I ended up cooking like hashbrowns. Still super delish.

I added 3 eggs to the remaining mix, but probably could have done just as well with 2. So they held together very well and the littles inhaled them.

The carrot fries are super easy. I got the idea from a fellow allergy sufferer, JenMarie. She uses big carrots. I'm lazy and keep peeled baby carrots on hand because my kids eat them like candy.

Preheat oven to 425
Cut the carrots into thin strips,
Put them in a baggy with some oil (Canola here, though I've used EVOO with great results too) and mix well being sure they're evenly coated.
Put them on a cookie sheet and cook them to desired crispiness. I'm a charcoal lover myself so it takes 15-20 minutes to cook mine.

Of course cooking at such a high temperature means you need to stay in the kitchen and watch them. Not go fold laundry, check email, etc....not that I've ever done that.... ok maybe I did once, but I didn't have to call the fire department so it's ok.

The burgers are a lot of work, but really worth it. I think next time I may mix in some cooked quinoa for an added protein boost as well as a binder.

Oh, if you have little kids, use your judgement on the walnuts. Ella and Hank have eaten nuts with no hint of allergy problem. At Bill's suggestion, I first rubbed some walnut on Shane's arm, no reaction after about 10 minutes. I then let him eat a small bite of a walnut piece, again no hint of reaction. We also have 2 epi-pens in the house (Jake's yellow jacket allergy) so I had that extra insurance. But again consider your kid's history before introducing tree nuts. (stepping offsoap box to go eat more carrot fries)

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