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A question that is often asked when one runs into a vegetarian.
Well here is an option, a juicy lentil quater pounder!
In the Eastern tradition, food is nourishment, love, communal, ceremonial, wholesome, divine but never talked about in terms of its nutritional component like protein, carbs or fats!
The conventional wisdom in the West is that you need your protein from an animal source along with your two vegetable sides to have a balanced meal. Vegetarians, on a plant and dairy diet were thought to be less healthy and sickly. Even though vegetarianism is becoming more mainstream and that perception is slowly changing, the W D Y D F P question is still on people’s mind. Usually followed by “So what do you eat?”!!
Without getting too technical, here is what I have learned….
Protein is basically made up of building blocks called amino acids. The body produces quite a few of these in its magnificent factory but still requires a few more amino acids that can be supplied only through diet.
These missing amino acids are called essential amino acids and can come from plant and animal sources. Generally speaking when it comes from animal sources these essential acids are complete. When it comes from plant based sources not all amino acids are present in every source, they might be missing an amino acid here and another there or sometimes its quality might be poor. However if you diversified your diet to include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits along with dairy [if this protein from an animal source is O.K with you] and consumed a calorically adequate diet you are home free. That’s right even vegetables have proteins.
Our protein requirements are not large, we only need around 10 % of our calorie intake to come from protein sources. You’ll get more protein than what you need if you combine from all the above, provided you keep the fats in check from dairy, nuts, seeds, soy[a legume] and the carbs in check from grains etc.
My family has been vegetarian for the last five generations that I know of and I am sure for several generations before that. I can definitely attest to the fact that we come from some pretty sturdy stock!
Now to the lentil burger. I’ve watched with a twinge of envy when people trade tips and talk about grilling burgers and etc. A culture I felt I could never be part of as a vegetarian, but wait! I could try and make a vegetarian version….. That got me experimenting with kidney beans, potatoes, oats, bulghur, rice, lentils etc and many, many attempts later I think I may have a keeper. This recipe requires no exotic ingredients just everyday staples.
1 Tbsp oil + oil for shallow frying
¼ Cup each of very finely chopped onions, celery and carrots
¼ Cup unseasoned toasted bread crumbs [not Panko]
¼ Tsp Italian seasonings
1 Cup cooked lentils
¼ Cup cooked rice
¼ Cup boiled potatoes, mashed to a creamy consistency.
1 Heaped tbsp of Lipton’s onion soup mix
¼ Tsp salt
Everything measured, packed and heaped.
Should yield about half cup of soft and mushy vegetables.
Wedge between a toasted bun with your favorite “fixins’ or have it bare!
- The cooked lentil should be soft when squeezed between thumb and forefinger and not overly wet or dry.
- Mix the contents of the Lipton soup packet well so that the fine sediments at the bottom are well mixed in with the larger flakes when measuring.
- I drizzle a few drops of oil on the skillet /non stick pan and place a patty and gently coat the bottom of the patty with the oil and repeat with all the patties instead of coating the entire pan with oil. Then I brush some oil on the uncooked side and turn it over. This way I use very little oil but I get the desired result. A minute on each side should do it as everything in the mixture is already cooked.
- Freezer friendly! The lentil mixture and the cooked patty, both freeze really well. A couple of hours at room temperature is all it requires to thaw.
- The soup seasoning gives it a subtle meaty flavor which is what makes this burger. Leave it out or add your own seasoning. Voila! you have the perfect standby recipe for those pesky vegetarians like me, but is also meat eater approved.
My first post is going to be very easy!
Here is one of my recipes that was selected as a finalist [alas only published online] by Washington Post for their ‘ 2010 Top Tomato Contest’.
Grits With Tomatoes Over Easy
And here is the recipe as it appears in ‘ The Post ‘
Grits With Tomatoes Over Easy
The Washington Post, August 11, 2010
- • Course: Side Dish
Grits don’t have to be smothered with butter or cheese to taste great. This recipe is a low-fat alternative.
The grits firm up with a few minutes’ rest once they are out of the oven.
- • 1/4 teaspoon plus scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- • 2 or 3 ripe medium tomatoes (about 14 ounces total), each cut horizontally into nine 1/4-inch slices
- • 1/2 cup old-fashioned grits, such as Quaker (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
- • 2 cups water
- • 4 large basil leaves, rolled tightly, then cut crosswise into thin slices (chiffonade)
Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the top broiler element. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have an 8-inch square baking dish at hand.
Combine the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the dried basil and the black pepper in a small bowl; mix well.
Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Layer all of the tomato slices evenly on top of the oil. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil over the slices, then sprinkle half of the salt mixture evenly over them. Bake on the middle oven rack for 15 minutes; the slices should soften but hold their shape.
Gently transfer the tomato slices to a large plate. Leave any tomato juices in the baking dish. (Leave the oven on.)
Meanwhile, combine the grits and 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; stir to coat, then cook for about 2 minutes, until the grits are slightly toasted and somewhat fragrant. Transfer the toasted grits to the baking dish. Add the remaining scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the water and the basil chiffonade. Mix well, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake (at 400) for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil and whisk the grits until they are silky and smooth.
Gently transfer the tomato slices to top the baked grits, inverting them so the seasoned side is facing down. Sprinkle with the remaining salt mixuture, and drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of oil.
Preheat the broiler.
Place the baking pan on the top oven rack and broil uncovered for a few minutes until a few darkened spots appear on the tomatoes.
Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
From Sandhya Babu of Gaithersburg.
260 calories, 10g fat, 2g saturated fat, n/a cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 41g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 6g sugar, 5g protein.
Would love to hear from anyone who finds this post and then tries this recipe. For now, I am sure I am just blogging to an Universe of one!!!