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These little vegan, gluten free nibbles are great with a spicy salsa, in a pitta with garlic mayo, or even with ketchup and chips!  The original recipe is surprisingly old, as it’s by Charles Walter Forward from 1891 and features in Early Vegetarian Recipes.  That’s why the measurement for the lentils appears here as a 1/2 pint!  It sounds odd to modern cooks, but I’ve found measuring out lentils in a pint jug to be pretty effective!  I find that a greater proportion of rice than in the original holds the mix together better, and I’ve coated them here in gluten free flour rather than breadcrumbs.  The flavouring I’ve used is as in the original, but they can also be spiced up with chilli, garlic or curry flavour for when you want to ring the changes!

Lentil Bites

1/2 pint shelled lentils
5 tblsp rice
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
1 pint water (and more if needed)
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried mixed  herbs
Salt and Pepper
Gluten free flour for coating (or use fine cornmeal)
Vegetable oil

Boil the lentils, rice and vegetables together until cooked and the mixture resembles a stiff paste.  Add the pepper, salt, chopped parsley, and dried herbs and stir in.  Leave the mix to cool completely.

Shape the mixture with your hands and a small spoon to make small patty shapes.  Sprinkle some gluten free flour onto a plate, then coat each of the patties in the flour.

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with oil, and heat thoroughly.  Fry the patties on both sides until brown.

Brrr!  It suddenly got cold and I’m running round the house turning the heating on and getting extra jumpers!  It had to happen of course, after our strangely warm autumn so far, but I still feel unprepared.

So what’s the only rational response to this turn of events?  Well, steaming bowls of hot chocolate obviously.  But if you’re looking for a healthier option then the steaming bowls have to be filled with soup, and nothing really beats a thick warming soup for a winter feel good factor.

This soup was made on the spur of the moment with store cupboard ingredients, including frozen butternut squash, which has become one of my favourite standbys.  Of course fresh squash would be even better, but having healthy ingredients in the freezer means quick dishes like this can be made without much thought or planning.

Squash and Lentil Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black mustard seed
5 or 6 chunks frozen butternut squash
1 cup red lentils
1 pint water
1 tsp herbamare salt (or use sea salt)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground black pepper

Heat the onion in a large saucepan and cook the onion, carrot, garlic and spices (except the garam masala) for several minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables in the spices.  Add the squash and lentils and stir briefly, then add the water and salt.

Bring the water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for around 20 minutes.  Add the garam masala and black pepper, taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Use a blender to blend the soup until smooth.  If you don’t have a blender, then the soup is fine as it is!

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