Yes, I know. Not very photogenic. In fact, they look decidely unappetizing. However, the taste definitely makes up for their physical appearance, or lack thereof. I first ate these a few years ago when my sister brought them home from the Red Stick Farmer’s Market in Baton Rouge where she and my brother-in-law are vendors of organic lamb and chickens. Carolyn also makes and sells incredible pestos, caponata, popsicles, and pasta. Anyway, she had been raving about these lentil balls for weeks; I was skeptical, but she was insistent and finally our schedules coincided so that we were both at the parents’ house at the same time. Finally, I could taste these lentil things. Well, one taste and I immediately understood her devotion. They were delicious, extremely rich-tasting, but really delicious, and I knew I had to make them. But, just as many other things go in life, I completely forgot about them for years until a small little take-out store opened near the library. It was the Turkish vendor! Well, after eating them again, I immediately did a search for a recipe, of which there are many, but all are virtually the same. So, I made them, and they were good, not exactly like the ones I had bought, but good. The consistency was the same, but they weren’t as rich and there seemed to be a spice missing. So, I began to tweak the recipe – adding more cumin, leaving out the cumin, adding ground coriander, more parsley, more green onions, no paprika, more tomato paste, and so on, until I arrived at the recipe below. It’s really good the first day, but it’s out-of-sight good on the second day. So, if you’re not blown away on day one, I promise you that you will be on day two.
Red Lentil Balls Printable recipe
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
½ cup bulgur
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup parsley, minced, plus extra for garnish
¼ cup green onions, finely minced, plus extra for garnish
½ – 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to water and bring to a boil.
Add lentils, lower heat to a simmer and cook until soft.
Once the lentils are cooked, remove from heat and stir in bulgur.
Cover and set aside for at least 15-20 minutes.
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
Add onion, garlic, and dried spices, cook on medium-low heat until onions are soft. Add paste to onion mixture, and mix well.
Stir onion mixture into the lentil mixture.
Add parsley, green onions, and pepper.
Taste before adding the additional salt.
Allow mixture to chill before shaping into balls.
Serve chilled and garnish with additional parsely and green onion.