There are very few downsides to my work with Rose Water & Orange Blossoms. Except one thing: I share stuff, and then I’m held to it.
Sweetless, Meatless March? It sounded good, and I was really ready to get off the sugar parade that had lingered since the holidays. Also the red meat: less is best and yet this is something I have not been good at abiding.
So I went for it, and just to make it extra real, I let all of you know. What happened to keeping our sacrifices private, so that no one but God above is aware that a girl is pining desperately for French macarons, but she digs down deep and finds a way to resist?
Not Maureenie; she has to put it all out there so that every time I’m in the presence of those in the know, which is very often, and the sweet things or the juicy meats tempt her, they stand there and watch and wait to see if she is going to have a #lentfail right before their eyes.
I’ve done alright so far, in case you were wondering. In case you were hoping for a big ‘ole give-in that just might assuage any guilty feelings of your own for whatever eating habit you may be trying to change….
But when you work with food and have a personal obsession for pastry, then it seems that there’s no rest for the weary. Take those macarons. They’ve been everywhere I turn lately. In Chicago, they peeked out from the pastry case at Pierrot Gourmet and ever so sweetly, every so gently tempted. But no. NO!
Then there is the crazy macaron-laden cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine. With step-by-step instructions, no less! We did make macarons in culinary school, so that experience along with this tutorial…I’m so money to lay down beautiful macarons with and for you. But no. NO. I shun macarons. I open the magazine and see lentil patties, pan sautéed and served with a cool yogurt sauce.
Hey, that looks good. That sounds good. And even though I promised you classic Lebanese lentil soup (rushta) in my meatless/sweetless line-up, I decided then and there to switch course and put my lentils to use as a pattie, a lentil burger, if you will.
I’m not saying these really very delicious, crispy flavorful lentil patties have completely cleared my mind of macarons—my daydreams consist of a honeymoon in Paris just so I can visit Laduree—but they are more than worthy of the plate during a meatless, sweetless commitment and, I suspect, long after.
Crisp Lentil Patties with Yogurt Sauce
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living. Makes 8 small, delicious patties.
1/3 cup French green lentils, sorted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/3 cup sweet or red onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh or 2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
Few grinds freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 head of lettuce, such as bibb or romaine, leaves separated
1 cup plain yogurt or labneh
Pinch cayenne pepper
In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with water by a few inches and bring them to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to simmer, cooking until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool the lentils for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to release the heat.
Puree half of the lentils, the onion, eggs, and bread crumbs in the food processor, blender or with a potato masher. In a medium bowl, combine this mixture with the remaining lentils and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley. The lentils can be chilled at this point for up to one day; bring to room temperature before proceeding. Form patties with about 1/4 cup of the lentil mixture for each.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the patties, in batches if needed, until they are golden brown and crisp on each side, flipping them once.
In a small bowl, stir the yogurt with a pinch of salt until it is smooth and creamy.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter or individual plates and lay the lentil patties over them. Serve them with the yogurt, drizzling the lentils and yogurt with olive oil and sprinkling all with chopped parsley and a pinch of cayenne pepper.