Red lentil patties: packed with iron and perfect for summer


red lentil patties


Time:           prep. 10 mins
                     soaking 2 hrs
                     coook. 15-25 mins
                     cooling 2-3 hrs
Difficulty:    easy

Yield:           4 servings 
Cost:            low

Those who want to reduce meat consumption find an important ally in the world of legumes. And red lentils really offer an excellent alternative for both protein levels and iron, as well as the long satiety that they confer.
Even if they contain high levels of carbohydrates you don’t have to worry about the excess kilos, because they are complex carbohydrates and most of them belong to the category of resistant starch, which is why their digestion takes place more slowly. This characteristic ranks them among the sources of carbohydrates with reduced glycemic load: in other words, they cause fewer glycemic peaks and, similarly, the stomach empties itself in more time (it is said that resistant starch prolongs the sense of satiety up to 50% more), thus reducing the feared attacks of hunger, enemies of a balanced diet. They also help improving cardiovascular health, as red lentils are able to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.

Wonderful food then, and to be enjoyed all year long; unfortunately, when it is summer, not everyone can appreciate the idea of legumes, especially if the thermometer marks 30 and more degrees: indeed, in the collective imagination legumes are mistakenly associated with winter.

If you are part of this group of people, the recipe I am proposing today is just right for you.
The red lentil patties are
eaten cold, accompanied by a delicious and refreshing salad which is prepared with seasonal vegetables. And if you have any left over, you can keep them in the fridge to eat for lunch the next day; by the seaside or at work. Moreover, they are rich in nutrients; very cheap, easy to prepare and their production – when of national origin – is absolutely ethical and solidarity-based, which makes them even more tasty.



for red lentil patties

1 cup of red lentils, raw
2 cups of vegetable broth or water
1/3 cup of fine whole meal bulgur (or search for it in ethnic shops)
2 tbsp of concentrated tomato paste or a dense tomato sauce prepared with 3 big and ripe tomatoes
1 onion, chopped finely
2-3 scallion, chopped finely (optional)
5 tbsp of parsley, chopped finely
3 tbsp of extravergine olive oil
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of chili powder

for “Gavurdagi” Salad

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into small cubes
1 hot pepper (better chilli), cut into slices
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic, crushed
1 cucumber, diced
2 nuts, roughly chopped
7-8 sprigs of rocket or parsley or mint
½ lemon juice
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (optional: but if you ever try it it will stop being “optional”)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil


Wash the lentils until the drain water is clear. Let them soak for about 2 hours; rinse them and put them to cook in a pressure cooker with 2 glasses of vegetable stock or water. After about 10 minutes check if it has absorbed all the water: if so, add another half glass. When they are cooked, turn off the heat and add the bulgur, salt and cumin to the lentils. Stir evenly and leave the mixture to cool: it will take about 2-3 hours to cool completely. 

In the meantime, pour the oil into a saucepan and turn the diced onions to brown; when they begin to soften, add the diced tomato: in order to obtain all the lycopene contained in the “red gold”, I recommend that you do not peel or remove the seeds.

For those who do a lot of physical activity, so do not fear extra calories, I must say that the red lentil patties seasoned “generously” with olive oil become even more tasty.

Extra tip for Celiacs

You can replace the fine bulgur of this recipe, with the same quantity of quinoa: the final texture would be very similar, but more proteic and of course without gluten. But please double check that the red lentils and quinoa that you have do not contain trace gluten

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The golden browning and therefore cooking of onions must take place on low heat, for about 5 minutes but making a perfect tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes would require at least 20 minutes. Leave this tomato sauce to cool for 1 hour and then add it to the lentil and bulgur mixture. The consistency must be compact, but not to be cut with a knife; if you think it is too liquid, add two more tablespoons of fine bulgur (after letting it puff for 10 minutes with a little hot water). Finally, cut the parsley finely and pour it over the mixture; knead everything together well and then using your hands (or two spoons) start forming the patties.


Here is another recipe ideal for summer: Kısır, fine bulgur salad, very quick and healthy (Turkish style tabulè)


Smart combo’s

Once the red lentil patties are ready, serve them together with the Gavurdagi salad, which is packed with summer vegetables: it is reminiscent both in color and size of another very popular salad (even if from overseas), the Pico de Gallo.

Gavurdagi is very popular among Turks and is normally used to accompany various types of kebap.
But we want to use it because it is delicious, ideal for summer and easy to prepare; above all it has a specific peculiarity: being very rich in Vitamin C and carotene*, it allows to assimilate a large part of the iron contained in lentils, reducing the chelating effect of absorption antagonists.

Preparing it very easy, you need to cut tomatoes, onion, cucumber, green peppers, parsley or mint into small cubes, and season them with a generous lemon juice, 2 walnuts, extravergine olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

The pomegranate molasses, which is one of the “cult” ingredients of Turkish gastronomy, can be difficult to find. A friend of mine, who is also a famous Italian chef one day confessed me that he founds it in some cases even better than l‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena. And in the country of pomegranates they use it in the same way of balsamic vinegar: over salads, grilled vegetables, plates prepared with bulgur and grilled meat

In the end we should have a juicy salad which has a favor with character; should be juicy enough to dip our red lentil patties inside. Therefore serve them in individual bowls in order to avoid discussions and jealousies among participants.
Good revolution to all and enjoy your dinner

(*): Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419.


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