At this time of year, many of us are comforting ourselves with the thought of spring produce–asparagus, chives, fresh greens–right around the corner. For now, though, we’re still doing a lot of cooking from our pantries, and the fresh ingredients we do have shine all the more brightly because they’re precious right now.
These red lentil quinoa cakes with harissa are a perfect example of a pantry meal that’s elevated by a few small touches: the fresh and slightly bitter taste of parsley, the heat of harissa paste, and a vibrant drizzle of my delightfully green tahini dressing.
Vegan cakes, like vegan burgers, are not easy to get right. My experience with both is that the absence of egg can make binding a little tricky. This gets easier if you use breadcrumbs, but in this recipe I used quinoa. The texture of the cakes is ever so slightly delicate, but they’re still sturdy and have a great, substantial texture. Steven and I really loved them, both as a dinner and then as leftovers (we stuffed them into pitas and piled them high with veggies and extra dressing).
Harissa is a chili pepper paste that’s widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. I tend to buy it both in the form of a spice mix powder and as a paste. The paste is a bit zestier, but the powder will keep longer and can be easier to store. It’s optional in this recipe (cumin, paprika, and oregano still give the cakes lots of flavor), but it’s a really nice addition.
Of course, there’s no need to serve the lentil cakes with the rice pilaf, but this particular rice recipe is something of a go-to for me at home, so I thought it was worth sharing. The tahini dressing is just an option, too, but it really does make the red lentil quinoa cakes sing.
And that’s it. A satisfying, nutritious dinner that’s easy to prepare with dry ingredients, but freshened up by just a few green touches. Here’s hoping you enjoy this one as much as Steven and I did!
This Friday, I’ll be back with a new green recovery story. I look forward to sharing it. Enjoy the rest of your weeks!