Thursday, February 26, 2009



"Try Lentils for Lent"

For Lent, replace your meat hamburgers with tasty versions of veggie burgers. Yes, you can buy the frozen Boca and GardenBurger patties. They're fine for a quick meal. But kick up the flavor and quality a notch with homemade or fresh-made veggie burgers.

If you're in the northern Virginia / DC metro area, I urge you to try the lentil burger at Kennedy's Health Foods / Kasha's Kitchen in Falls Church. (Kasha's Kitchen is the little cafe in the back.) It may be the best veggie burger I've ever had, including ones I make myself from scratch. I've witnessed hard-core meat addicts chomp down on it and rave about it. One non-vegetarian, who regularly orders the lentil burger, told me that nothing made with lentils comes close to Kasha's lentil burger. I like lentils a lot, but I have to admit, he may be right.

Lentils are one of the more common bases for homemade veggie burgers. Try making homemade veggie burgers—they're not that hard to make. Basically, you mix a bunch of stuff in a bowl, form it into patties, and fry, broil, or bake the patties. You may have to chop an onion, maybe a couple cloves of garlic, but for the most part there's very little chopping involved. Besides, you can always buy frozen cut-up onions and a jar of minced garlic.

There's amazing diversity in veggie burgers. You change some of the core ingredients and you get a whole different taste. The idea is not to try to replicate a meat burger, but to create interesting, tasty, filling, and satisfying patties that go great in a bun and with appropriate toppings and "fixins."

Lentils also shine in Indian dishes. If you haven't tried Indian cuisine, or you haven't tried it in years, or think it's nothing but curry (nothing wrong with curry in my book, though), it's time to treat yourself to a nice Indian dinner—or years of them. Seek out recommended Indian restaurants in your area, and search online for easy Indian recipes. Look for dal dishes and recipes to get that rich blend of lentils and Indian spices. You can also buy some halfway decent instant Indian meals that feature lentils. You nuke them for a minute or two and you're ready to go. Although I highly recommend serving them over some Basmati rice.

For a super-easy, super-cheap, fulfilling made-from-scratch meal, cook up some lentils in one pot, and an approximately equal amount of rice in another pot. They're both be done in about 20 minutes. Mix the two together, squirt a little soy sauce on top, and top with some Earth Balance vegan butter. Voila! And bon appetit!

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