How will you celebrate in Sacramento National Salad Month at the same time you celebrate National Burger Month now that it’s May again? Try lentil and walnut burgers for National Burger Month. And get your omega 3 fatty acids from the walnuts. In Sacramento, if you’re interested in a vegetarian burger or want to mix your regular burger with ground cooked lentils and brown rice to extend the meat, or if you simply want a modified Mediterranean diet alternative, try these delicious lentil burgers for National Burger Month this May.
You can prepare lentil burgers with lentils and ground carrots without cooked rice using oat meal or oat bran instead, or mix the mashed or pureed lentils with rice. Or you can remain grain-free and just use carrots, onions, and lentils with ground seeds to form the patty. The idea is to chill the mashed or pureed lentils with vegetables until the patty holds together for baking in the oven, frying, or grilling until golden brown on both sides, like any other burger.
How about lentil burgers served with sliced tomato, dark green baby spinach leaves, a slice of red onion, and a pinch of feta cheese on whole grain flat bread or served without bread next to a salad? For a change, try walnut lentil burgers. Check out the uTube videos, Lentil Burger Recipe – Healthy Vegan Recipes On Video and Best Vegetarian Recipes l Lentil Walnut Veggie Burgers. The vegan recipe video is at the Healthy Vegan Cooking Show (lentil burger recipe) site. Some lentil burger recipes are entirely vegan–no eggs, dairy, or animal products. Other lentil burger recipes on line, including some of those on uTube videos are more ovo-lacto vegetarian. Choose which recipes that you prefer.
The National Lentil Festival is August 19-20, 2011. Now this month of May is National Burger Month and National Salad Month. See the site, National Burger Month Vs. National Salad Month | NBC Washington. So celebrate both with a lentil burger and a side dish of salad. It’s the perfect modified Mediterranean diet of the day.
How you make a lentil burger with a side of salad (or the salad on the bun with the lentil burger) is to start with a pan of cooked, drained lentils and a 1/2 cup of shelled sunflower seeds. You also can use pignola (pine) nuts, but sunflower seeds are less expensive. Save the water you drain from the cooked lentils. You’ll also need ground, peeled baby carrots, about three. Use more or less to your taste as far as the carrots go. Chopped onions also can be put into the mixture, about 1/4 cup.
You’ll need some of it to blend the lentils to a pasty consistency in your blender. You simply season the lentils with your favorite herbs and spices, whether it’s a pinch of salt and pepper or more exotic herbs such as thyme, sumac, rosemary, sage, tarragon, oregano, or garlic and onion. Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture.
You put the lentils in your blender after you season, add a bit of liquid in which the lentils were stewed, and add chopped onion, parsley, and garlic. Then blend it all.
Then you add a half cup full of cooked brown rice and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Blend again. If the lentils aren’t holding together, add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and a tablespoon of oat bran or oat meal. Blend some more. Form into patties. If you’re not vegan, you can add an egg to help hold the mixture together as you grill the lentils and rice, ground, pureed, and shaped into patties like burgers. If you’re vegan and don’t use eggs, the oat bran and ground flax seeds will help to hold the burger together.
Let the mixture stand for five minutes before grilling or frying the burger patties. Turn when golden brown on both sides. You can thicken the mixture to hold together by adding raw oat meal or oat bran until the lentils hold together in patty shape. Sometimes this takes a few minutes.
Or you can shape the burgers and store them in the refrigerator for an hour until the oat meal or oat bran absorbs the liquid and keeps the burger shape. The patties can be stored overnight in the refrigerator, where they will keep their shape. Lentils also can be shaped into balls or put in a cookie mold for various shapes before they are fried or grilled. Better yet, instead of frying or grilling, bake your lentil burgers. Line a baking sheet with foil. Brush the foil and both sides of the burgers with about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Broil until golden, about 3 minutes per side.
Another alternative is to dip the lentil and rice patties into bread crumbs and beaten eggs or whole grain flour and eggs or oat bran and eggs to form a crust. And then fry or grill the patties as if they were burgers. If you want a more exotic, Eastern Mediterranean recipe for lentil burgers with cumin, follow the recipe at the website, Cumin-Spiced Red Lentil Burgers Recipe – Ann Withey | Food & Wine. Or try this lentil burger recipe, Vegetarian Recipe: Veggie Burger Recipe: Lentil Burgers. In Sacramento you can buy veggie burgers at Trader Joe’s near Fulton Avenue and Marconi Avenue. The veggie burgers are in the food market’s cooler.
If you’re trying to save money, want to eat (vegan) vegetarian, recession-proof basic, healthy, and nutritious food, try the Cappadocian food of folk dancers and athletes– vegan treat balls. It’s eaten all over Asia Minor and the Middle East and is called köfte in Cappadocia, realm of the ancient Hittites, kufta in Aleppo, another ancient Hittite stronghold. You only need two main ingredients—lentils and bulgur wheat. Spice according to your preferences with toasted cumin seed, and garnish with chopped parsley and (optional) mint.
These vegan treat balls go back to Neolithic times when the first emmer wheat grew in the grain and legume belt said to be close to the Garden of Eden, where the four rivers met—the Tigris and Euphrates source and the source of the Pison and Gihon. (The last two rivers dried up, but can be seen as dry riverbeds from a satellite’s view.) That’s where the modern country of Turkey’s borders with Iraq, Iran, and Syria all meet in one spot, the heartland of lentils and grain.
Vegan köfte is the food of baglama (stringed instrument) musicians and of tribal, folk, and belly dancers, of wandering nomads and settled farmers. And köfte tastes like the vegetarian version of a meat ball. You eat it, and it gives you enough energy to folkdance.
Best of all, in a recession, it’s low-cost, nutritious food that is filling but not stuffing. You can serve it just as you’d serve meatballs, covered in vegetarian, gently spiced gravy made from ground, puréed lentils and a little lentil and vegetable broth. You won’t feel hungry an hour later after eating this dish with a side of green vegetables or a salad. Or serve with toasted flat bread smeared with a mixture of tahini (puréed sesame seed paste and lemon juice) topped with chopped mint and Italian parsley combined with mashed, cooked garbanzos (chick peas).
Here’s how to make these grain and legume vegan treat balls called köfte. It can be shaped into a vegan meatball, called a ‘treat ball’ in English-speaking circles. Some restaurants call it a meatless ball, a ‘neat ball’, a croquette, rissole, patty, quenelle, grilled legume and grain patty. It has been said that it’s one of the “the lowest-cost health foods around.” Cappadocia, the land of fairy chimney houses, is known for its puréed spreads and sauces made from legumes, beans, lemon, mint, parsley, and sesame.
Although raw food enthusiasts can eat raw the individual ingredients soaked until chewable, the Cappadocian version used cooked lentils and bulgur wheat kneaded into balls and then chilled.
Another version of this food chills the vegan balls and then adds cooked, mashed fish, kneads it again, and then bakes it in the oven in oblong shapes, called ‘kibbee’ in Aleppo and in areas south of Ankara, Turkey. I prefer not baking it, but serving it in rolled, chilled vegan balls because the lentils and grain already have been ‘cooked’ once. That’s how they cook this type of food in Alanya (also in Alania) and in other lands such as Chuvashia.
You can use rice bran oil with added spices, but the healthiest way to serve köfte, is with a bit of extra virgin, (first expeller pressed) or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Here’s how to make this healthy, vegan food.
The two main ingredients you need are lentils and bulgur wheat. You can buy bulgur wheat in any health food store, in most supermarkets, or in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern grocery stores. Or order online. See Sunnyland Mills (Fresno) to learn more about bulgur wheat and where to find it in your local area or online. In Sacramento, buy bulgur wheat at the Whole Foods Market, 4315 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA 95864.
First, let’s prepare what you’ll need by your hands as you cook:
1. Take out your bottle of extra virgin olive oil and your cup of chopped parsley or half cup of chopped parsley and half cup of chopped mint. If you don’t like mint, just use Italian parsley. Also take out your half cup of chopped yellow onions. Put these ingredients aside. If you don’t season with salt, use celery seed (ground) and dulse granules instead.
2. Cook a cup of lentils about a half hour, until soft, in two and a half to three cups of water or vegetable broth. Set aside three tablespoons of cooked lentils with which to make gravy. Use your favorite color lentils. In the old country, people usually choose the red lentils. When the lentils are cooked, add ½ to ¾ of a cup of fine or medium bulgur wheat to the broth. Let the wheat and lentils soak in the hot broth for a half hour until most of the water is absorbed, and the wheat is soft and chewy. Salt is optional. Add sea or mineral salt if you’re not salt-sensitive. If you’re salt sensitive, sprinkle dulse granules and celery seed into your lentil mixture or use a pinch of onion or garlic powder.
3. In a large frying pan, heat two to four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add your half cup of chopped yellow onions and fry the onions a minute until they become soft and translucent, but not browned or burnt. Pour in your teaspoon of ground cumin spice and stir a minute in the hot olive oil.
4. Drain your cooked lentils and softened bulgur wheat of any remaining broth or water, and put the water aside in a cup to make gravy with later. Add three tablespoons of cooked lentils to the water. You’ll later blend the three tablespoons of cooked lentils with the broth or water, adding any salt or spices to taste, to make gravy to pour over the finished vegan treat balls.
5. Now pour the drained lentils and bulgur wheat mixture into the frying pan with the fried onion and stir. At this point, in case you have vegetable pulp left over from juicing peeled carrots or other peeled vegetables, feel free to add a few tablespoons of the vegetable pulp to the mixture of lentils and bulgur wheat to add texture. It will enrich the vegan balls with fiber. For example, after juicing peeled carrots, spinach, parsley, and celery, you can add the left over vegetable pulp to the lentils and wheat mixture in the frying pan.
6. Let the mixture cool enough to knead with your hands. Put the entire mixture of wheat, onions, lentils, vegetable pulp, cumin, and any other spices you wish. Add the chopped parsley or parsley and mint. Keep kneading the cooled mixture until you can form small vegan balls that hold together. Press the water out with your hands and form into balls about an inch in diameter, or about the size of large marbles.
7. Keep kneading for five minutes. If your hands get covered with food, wet your hands and knead. Now add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the entire mixture. Knead again.
8. It’s spice time. Add any more spices you wish—garlic powder, pepper, or a pinch of cayenne. Now add any chopped Italian parsley or mint and any more flavors, herbs, or spices that you enjoy, such as zatar (thyme and sumac mixed) or turmeric. If you want to add a curried taste, add a pinch of curry powder. In Cappadocia the familiar spices would stick to pepper and cumin for these vegan balls.
9. Put some baby spinach leaves or Romaine lettuce leaves on a plate. Chop some green onions and put them on top of the spinach or lettuce leaves. Slice lemons in a round, thin shape, and garnish a plate with lemon wheels on top of the green, leafy vegetables. Now take the vegan treat balls you just made and place them on top of the green leafy vegetables with the lemon wheels around the edge of the plate as garnish. Chill the balls for an hour in the refrigerator until they are cold.
10. In a blender, liquefy the three tablespoons of cooked lentils you set aside with ½ cup of broth or water. Add any salt or spice to taste or if salt-sensitive, other spices or chopped celery. Blend until you have a gravy consistency. Pour the gravy over the chilled vegan balls.
11. Serve the köfte chilled on a platter or as soon as the food has cooled from luke warm. Side dishes that are customary to be served with köfte include toasted flat bread smeared with a mixture of a cup puréed or mashed cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas) blended with three to five tablespoons of tahini (puréed sesame seeds).
12. You can liquefy your own sesame seeds in water in a blender. Then add them to the cup of mashed garbanzos mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend together as a paste and smear it on a wedge of toasted flat bread. Or serve the garbanzo and sesame sauce paste on the side of the plate as a dip.
13. This vegan dish is low-cost, very healthy, and is said to be the favorite food of folk dancers from Cappadocia. So see the video below for a little music of Cappadocia to folkdance to as you eat low-cost vegan, and nutritious.
14. Note that if you’re on a wheat-free diet, any other cooked whole or cracked grain can be substituted for wheat in this vegan lentil and grain ball. You might use barley, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, or whole oat groats instead of wheat. So choose the grain you are able to eat. Other legumes also can be substituted for lentils, such as garbanzo beans. And the sesame seed paste and garbanzos can be made with almost any other types of cooked beans such as mashed pinto or black beans. So eat the food to which you’re not allergic.
15. Note for people who are not vegan vegetarians, you could also add any type of cooked fish to the lentils or combine the cooked, mashed, lentils and grain with cooked, ground lamb, poultry, or fish to make vegetable and fish or meat balls. But in old Cappadocia and far away in Chuvashia, the tradition is lentils and wheat. And the food is favored by musicians and dancers.
After you’ve cooked my vegan recipe above, if you’re looking for a wider variety of different foods for lunch or dinner, I highly recommend California cuisine with a Turkish twist with the very fresh and healthy food at Gonul’s J Street Café in mid-town/East Sacramento, 3839 J St.
The restaurant opened in 2003 and also does catering. According to the restaurant’s site, Gonul Blum was raised in Turkey, “a land rich in culinary traditions of farm-fresh ingredients and exotic spices.” Her family is in the spice business. Check out the photos of some of the food, the outside seating, and the inside eating areas at Gonul’s J Street Café Web site.
What I enjoy, especially about Cappadocian cooking with my own favorite vegan recipes, is the delicate use of spices. Instead of having spices overtake food and burn your mouth, spices such as roasted ground cumin, thyme, or sumac enhance the food’s flavor. They’re delicate spices rather than overbearing, and they don’t give me migraines like ground chili and cayenne mixed with mustard do. So choose the spices and herbs tailored to your own body’s signature. My favorite seasonings and herbs are celery seed, coriander, and parsley.
In other countries with related Turanian languages, but more distant geographic locations from Cappadocia, such as Chuvashia, bulgur wheat sometimes may be substituted for other grains such as whole buckwheat (kasha/kashi) or barley. You also could use millet, teff, or quinoa and legumes to make these vegan balls.
So as you eat, click on the “get up and dance to the music and singing” uTube video, Fidayda, below and enjoy a taste of Cappadocian folk music to dance to with your meal.
For more info: browse my books, How Nutrigenomics Fights Childhood Type 2 Diabetes & Weight Issues (2009) or Predictive Medicine for Rookies (2005). Or see my books, How to Safely Tailor Your Foods, Medicines, & Cosmetics to Your Genes (2003) or How to Interpret Family History & Ancestry DNA Test Results for Beginners (2004) or How to Open DNA-driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses. (2007).