Thursday, 5 July 2012

Lentil patties with tomato and onion jam

I was the envy of many girls in high school. At the beginning of the week, I would make a batch of lentil patties and keep them in the fridge for my lunch during the week. Each day I would make a fresh salad of finely sliced celery, a few iceberg lettuce leaves (my favourite, sorry Jamie Oliver!), some tomato slices, and grated carrot. Then at the beginning of lunch time I would run to canteen to beat the queues and buy a
peanut butter roll for 30 cents. I would then return to my year levels' lunch area and add my lentil burger and salad to the peanut butter roll. Everyone would want a bite! I had to fend them off to protect my lunch from being taken by drooling high school girls in a blue uniforms!

So lentil burgers in various flavours, shapes and forms have been in my life for a long time. You can't go wrong with a lentil burger. Such a satisfying lunch. The combination of salads to accompany them are endless as are the sauces and chutneys to pair with them. Even tomato sauce and mustard works really well. I make a batch, pan fry them in a little oil and keep them in the fridge as a quick lunch, dinner with vegetables or snack on it's own.

When I first became a vegetarian at the age of 14 years old (in the mid 80's), everyone seemed to go on about iron and how important lentils where in a vegetarian diet. So I ate plenty of them and lentil burgers featured heavily in the beginning years of me being a vegetarian. Lentils are a good source of Iron: a half cup offers 3.3 mg of iron, The RDA for iron is 14 milligrams per day for vegetarian men and for women after menopause, and 33 milligrams per day for women prior to menopause. Being a non-heme source of iron, that is a vegetarian plant based form of iron (not as easily absorbed as heme iron found in meat, chicken and fish) it's great to eat these vego sources of iron with Vitamin C to increase absorption of iron. I'm always putting lemon juice on everything I eat but any green leafy vegetables will do too. 

Now, they all go on about protein and lentils are also a great source of protein too. They provide the same protein benefits as meat without the fat, calories and cholesterol that often accompany animal products. One cup of lentils contains 17 g of protein, which is essential to muscle development and growth. A diet rich in protein contributes to healthy nails, skin and muscles.

Lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, Vitamin B1 and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and copper.  A cup of lentils contains nearly 16 g of fiber, more than half of the recommended daily requirement. They contain nearly 90 percent of the daily recommendation of folate, which helps produce new cells and is essential to iron production in the body. Lentils contain magnesium, which is important to muscle and nerve function, strong bones and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. They also contain vitamin B6, which helps the body break down sugars and starches and supports functioning of the nervous system.

Wow! you get all that with lentils! No matter if your a vego or a meat eater, lentils are good for everyone, they are packed with so many things that are good for general wellbeing and health. Get into them!
Makes approximately = 12

Lentil pattie 
1 cup puy or beluga lentils (cooked in 2 cups water)
1 small carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small onion, very finely diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp dried italian herbs
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic *optional
good salt

Bring the puy lentils to the boil for approximately 5 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer. Adjust the lid slightly if needed to allow the lentil to reduce to a simmer and not boil over. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Strain and allow to cool in a colander while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
Saute the onion on a medium heat until soft. Add the herbs and further saute for a minute. Toss in the carrot and zucchini and stir fry for another minute, making sure they are warmed through and slightly cook but not mushy or discolored. 

Combine all the remaining ingredients together and mix thoroughly. The texture should squash together and hold well.

Shape into patties about 6cm in diameter and about 2 cm thick. Pan fry until golden on both side and place on paper towel to cool while you arrange your salad on plates or ensemble you burger bun!

Get a fresh bread roll or your favourite bread and fill with your choice of salads. I love any of the following combinations; lettuce or rocket, tomato, cucumber, white or purple onion, grated carrot and/or beetroot, sprouts, celery, and any other salad vegetable you like. Then top with tomato and onion jam and savor every mouthful!

Tomato and onion jam
2 large tomato, diced
1 medium onion, finely sliced into half moons
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
a small pinch cayenne pepper, spice it up to your taste - but remember a little goes a long way to firing up your palate!
cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp good salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut sugar

Saute the onion and spices together on a medium heat, be careful not to burn the mustard seeds as they can get a little bitter if they get burnt. Know the feeling(!) Once the onions are soft, add the remaining ingredients and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the tomato has soften and resembles a chutney-like texture.

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