Savory Lentil Patties with Miso Dressing

Lentil Patties

The Spell

Black Lentils

“And then the dry years would come, and sometimes there would be only seven or eight inches of rain. The land dried up and the grasses headed out miserably a few inches high and great bare scabby places appeared in the valley. The live oaks got a crusty look and the sage-brush was gray. The land cracked and the springs dried up and the cattle listlessly nibbled dry twigs. Then the farmers and ranchers would be filled with disgust for the Salinas Valley.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

While the rest of the nation has been in a deep freeze with record levels of snow we have been basking in winter sunshine. It has been fun, especially the walks on the beach without even a light jacket. But there is a feeling of dread, not unlike the last day of vacation before returning to work. We fill guilty in our sunny pleasures as we wait for the price to be paid for our greedy use of water. We need lots and lots of rain. Another inch of rain fell after rain dances were held. Not enough to break the drought. Maybe if we all stamped on the dusty earth and chanted our pleas the dry spell would be broken.

Making Lentil Patties

This is not your typical lentil patty that slides back into the early vegetarian recipes of the 70’s. This recipe is all about coaxing as much goodness as possible from shiny black lentils and a few companions in flavor. We are breaking the spell of dry, dull Lentil Patties. Perfect as a main component in salad or as a surprise burst of flavor for lunch the next day. Nestled between whole grain bread with a thin shaving of red onion and a blanket of arugula the Savory Lentil Patties make a worthy sandwich filling. Adding smashed avocado and a slice of tomato is optional but advised.

Lentil Patty Ingredients

Essentials

Lentil Patty Ingredients

I am always inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipes. The stellar food photography and tasty recipe descriptions cast a spell over my common sense. Yet, I am almost always disappointed. Either the recipe instructions are missing key points or the flavor is bland. I made the Lentil Patties with Lettuce and Yogurt from the January/February 2014 Martha Stewart Living and found the recipe to be—just ok. The lentil patties held their shape nicely, were a bit dry and lacked the depth of character in flavor I expect from my cooking. The dull yogurt sauce wasn’t much help. Martha’s recipe called for browning the patties in a skillet slicked with hot oil. This is where the meager flavor resided. I wanted something different. A pop of flavor that would shine even with baked lentil patties. Even when using the Savory Lentil Patties as a cold sandwich filling.

The patties can be made with either black lentils or green French Puy lentils. Red or brown lentils won’t hold their shape after cooking. I had just purchased a French spice mix, Retour du Potager, or Return of the Garden, which is a blend for making soup. With a mix of garlic, basil, chili, shallots, fennel and chives the mix paired wonderfully with the lentils. Dried oregano, basil or summer savory can be used in place of the French herb mix. I toasted walnuts to add body, flavor and protein to the Savory Lentil Patties. The yogurt dressing got an upgrade with miso for a generous amount of umami flavor in a vegan format. Making a low fat dressing with white miso is amazing. It is loaded with probiotics from the natural fermentation of soybeans.

Shaped Lentil Patties

Savory Lentil patties
1/2C dried black or green Puy (French) lentils
1/2t salt
1C walnuts
2 slices wholegrain bread
1/2C finely minced red onion
1/2C grated carrot
1/2C finely minced celery
3T minced parsley
2 eggs, beaten
1/2t fine grain sea salt
1/4t ground black pepper
1/4t red pepper flakes
1t dried herbs such as oregano, basil, summer savory or Retour du Potager
1 head butter lettuce
Easy Miso Yogurt Dressing
1C non-fat yogurt
2T white miso
1T agave nectar or honey
  1. In a small saucepan add the lentils, 1/2t salt and enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. Drain and cool the lentils.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts across the surface of a sheet pan and toast for 7-9 minutes until they are fragrant and turn a deep brown. Set aside to cool. Turn the oven to 375°.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor add the bread slices and process until there are large fluffy crumbs and no large pieces of bread remain. (Do not wash the food processor bowl.) Pour the crumbs in a medium sized bowl with the cooled lentils, red onion, carrot, celery, parsley, eggs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried herbs and mix to combine.
  4. Add the cooled walnuts to the food processor bowl and process until there are no large pieces of walnut. To the walnuts in the food processor bowl add almost half of the lentil mixture and process to puree. Add the mixture from the food processor back into the mixing bowl and mix to combine. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Form the mixture into 8 patties of uniform size and place on the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the patties are brown around the bottom edge and firm to touch. When ready the tops will no longer be glossy, shiny and moist. Take care not to overcook the Savory Lentil Patties as they will become dry. Serve hot or cold on a bed of butter lettuce with the Miso Dressing.
  5. To make the Simple Miso Dressing add all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Carrots and Lettuce

Lentil Patties

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38 Responses to Savory Lentil Patties with Miso Dressing

  1. Carol Sacks says:

    I appreciate the candor and disappointment in finding a recipe severely lacking and then turning around and fixing it. And, I appreciate that you shared your fix! I love the complexity of the flavor, but the ease in preparation. And, as always, beautiful photos. Here’s hoping your rain dances do the trick. We’re expecting showers on Wednesday and Thursday!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Carol! I guess I expect the best from Martha and company. The Lentil Patties sounded so comforting I had to try her recipe. Are you ever disappointed with her recipes? Maybe you’re wiser than I am and have moved on!

  2. What lovely hearty little patties. I love the addition of miso to the dressing.

  3. Mimi says:

    These look very good! Beautiful photography!

  4. This rings true with me. Maybe I expect too much but often chef/famous cook recipes disappoint. Either the instructions are rubbish or as you mention with Martha’s recipe, the seasoning is lacking – like they don’t want to scare people off. Nowadays I will rarely follow a recipe to the letter and just try and trust my instinct, at least on spicing levels. These lentil patties are definitely well-spiced and sound enticingly soft. And then there is the miso dressing. Even the martha version would be great with miso dressing!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment! Your kind thoughts are very welcome. I am always charmed by the wonderful flavor pairings in your recipes!

  5. I love lentils (no matter its color)!!! These patties look something that I’d happily eat — and overeat as well! The miso is a clever oriental touch, Deb!

  6. This recipe looks very healthy and reminds me of my vegetarian days. I will try it soon. What a good idea, adding miso to the dressing.

  7. I never thought I liked lentils until I tried them awhile ago. Now I can’t get enough. Can’t wait to try this creative recipe!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Laura, much appreciated! I love cooking with lentils! They are quick and nutritious.

  8. I love your comparison of our dry California land to a dry lentil patty. Brilliant. I have moved on from Martha Stewart ever since she said we bloggers are not the real deal on national television. And, to be honest, many of the recipes of hers I find online are lacking in detailed instructions, let alone flavor. I do have her appetizer book and have cooked successfully from it but I am veering in other directions now.

    I am sending this recipe to my nephew who is in search of tasty lentil main courses.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the delicious comment Beth! I’ve tried to get over Martha, but am drawn in by the styling and photos. Great inspiration, but often lackluster flavor and spare instructions.

  9. mjskit says:

    Great save on what looks like a healthy and quite delicious meal! It’s interesting because I have found a lot of celebrity “cooks” food lacking in seasoning. It’s amazing how just a little seasoning can transform a dish.

  10. “We are breaking the spell of dry, dull Lentil Patties” <– I love this! What a great tie-in to the drought we're having out here (I'm in Southern CA). We have been on a lentil soup kick lately, so I think it's only natural that we migrate to lentil patties. Deb, your photos are always fabulous! They make me start craving anything you post, big time. :)

  11. Deb, these photos are so vibrant that they alone are enough to entice one into this recipe. A further look at the ingredients list confirms that I would thoroughly enjoy these savory veggie patties.

  12. What a great-looking light meal! The addition of miso sounds so good. This is a great reminder to use miso more often.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Lisa! Miso is such a great ingredient, I try to keep some in the frig for
      salad dressings.

  13. They’re beautiful… the patties AND the photographs. Thanks for this recipe, Deb.

  14. This looks super delicious- I love eating healthily, so definitely should try the recipe out! :)

  15. shannon says:

    This is so lovely, Deb! I’m a relative newcomer to both lentils and miso, but i’ve grown quite fond of them in recent months, and i’m always looking for new ways to incorporate them into my cooking. This one is definitely a must-try for me.

  16. Claire says:

    timing – it’s all about timing, your recipe that is as I’ve been on the hunt for a good lentil patttie or rissole and couldn’t find one. Now that’s been resolved. I often wonder about vegetarian recipes that are made by meat eaters – where is the flavour I ask, and it sounds like Martha Stewart has fallen into this trap, you need to replace flavours given by meat with spices and herbs. and you’ve achieved that. thank you x
    Oh and hoping you guys get the rainfall you need

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment Claire! I agree that vegetarian recipes just need a boost of flavor to take them to the the place of irresistible! It’s been raining off and on for the last week but still not enough!

  17. I love patties that are not made with beef. I do enjoy a good steak but I am just not a fan of beef patties. I am a fan of vegetarian “burgers” though, just like the on you just created! Look super appetizing – and I LOVE lentils!

  18. Beautiful……love the miso dressing too! Gorgeous, gorgeous photos as ever.

  19. Jacquee says:

    How did I miss this one!! The mister is vegetarian and we are always looking for new ideas. This is going to happen on the weekend! Thank you.

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