Here in the Great Northwest, where winters are long and nippy, there’s nothing like the comfort and satisfaction of hot griddle cakes. The truth is, mine is a pancake loving family for any meal year ’round, and some type of whole grain, fruit, or veggie is usually mixed into ours. Whether they’re potato pancakes, buckwheat, pumpkin, or banana, that little something extra makes an otherwise run-of-the-mill pancake a unique breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Pine nuts or pecans go into the wheat cakes, shallots or cilantro complement the potato cakes, and for lentil cakes — cilantro and dill sauce.
For this meatless meal, I felt brave as I gathered my ingredients. Then my husband asked what we were having for dinner, looked at me quizzically, and said, “Lentil cakes? Never heard of them.” I wavered, unsure if he’d like them. This was a test-kitchen first, but I quickly explained that they were sort of like crab cakes, a favorite of his. He said that if I made them, they were bound to turn out delicious. Some people call it luck, some talent, but for optimum results, I pray when I cook.
When we sat down to this delightfully mild variety of griddle cake, golden brown on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, we both became lentil cake converts!
Enjoy the natural goodness of these fancy-looking griddle cakes with your favorite greens. And freeze the leftovers.*
Lentil Cakes with Dill-Yogurt Sauce and Fresh Greens
(Makes 16 to 18 cakes)
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced lengthwise, then roughly chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large clove minced garlic
1 cup rolled oats
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cilantro
2 cups of brown or green dry lentils (or a mixture)
6 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion power
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
4 cups mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, and kale)
1 TBS red wine vinegar (for the dressing)
2/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt (add water to thin, approx. ¼ cup)
2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 TBS fresh dill fronds, snipped into pieces with a kitchen scissor
3 TBS chopped roasted pistachios
In a stock pot, cover the lentils with six cups of hot water and cook until just tender, 20 -25 minutes. Add water if needed to keep lentils submerged. Remove from heat and pour into pasta colander. Leave in sink to drain.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium to high, and sauté chopped onions, carrots, and crushed garlic until golden. Add enough water to cover and simmer on low until fork-tender, about seven minutes. Strain veggies in a wire mesh strainer and set aside.
Place greens in salad bowl and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whip yogurt, lemon juice snipped dill, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt with a whisk, adding enough water that the sauce is like a thick syrup and set aside. In a separate glass prep bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to dress greens. Set aside.
Pour three quarters of the partially cooled, strained lentils into food processor, along with two eggs, oats, strained vegetables, balsamic vinegar, cilantro, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Pulse for 30 seconds, scrape sides, and pulse again. Add all but 1/2 cup of lentils. Pulse again. (The consistency of the batter is similar to bran or oat cookie dough, though slightly more moist). Transfer batter into medium-size bowl. Fold in remaining whole lentils. (The batter and dill-yogurt can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator.)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Spread oil evenly with a silicon pastry brush. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup for a ladle, scoop lentil batter onto heated griddle or skillet. (For smaller cakes, as shown, don’t fill the 1/4 cup measure all the way full.) Using the bottom of the measuring cup, pat the patty into a 1/2 inch thick, round cake. Make six to eight patties at a time and cook 2 ½ minutes on each side. (Keep warm in 150 degree oven on rimmed cookie sheet while frying additional patties.) Add another tablespoon of oil to skillet and cook remaining six to eight patties. Keep warm.
Toss greens in salad bowl with whisked oil and vinegar.
Divide lentil cakes and tossed greens equally on dinner plates as shown. Drizzle dill-yogurt sauce over lentils and sprinkle evenly with pistachios.
*Lentil cakes are far more versatile than you’d imagine. I have them for breakfast (without the dill-yogurt dressing). Just pop them in the toaster. Leftover cakes can be thawed and broiled in the oven and even topped with cheese for better-than-restaurant-style veggie burgers.
Copyright 2018 Catherine A. Hamilton