amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Herbed French lentil cakes with yogurt mint sauce

POSTED ON May 29, 2012

fresh out of the oven

A good vegetarian burger recipe has always been high on my recipe “to-do” list and a delicious lunch at ABC Kitchen last week inspired me to develop a new variation. Lately I have been experimenting with making lentil cakes (or burgers) using beets, French lentils and quinoa topped with tzatziki (Greek cucumber yogurt sauce with plenty of dill). The flavors have been great, but the texture of the cakes has been less than perfect.

The burger I was treated to at ABC Kitchen had a base of Jerusalem artichokes, farro, breadcrumbs and chickpeas. It was served on homemade pita bread with a mint yogurt sauce and marinated carrots. The burger was crispy and delicious, thanks to what they call “pan roasting,” which because of the appealing texture seemed more like frying to us. I later found out that they add egg white to the burger, which keeps them very light and moist inside.

This time I tried adding some mashed chickpeas to the cakes (I’m calling them cakes, but they could be called burgers), which bound the mix well, and eliminated any need for eggs. I saved the beets for serving on the side and left out the quinoa. This version is also baked, but could be gently pan-fried too. They turned out tender and delicious served warm and were also great the following days eaten cool and at room temperature. I can’t wait to try one on a toasted, sprouted bun with marinated beet slices, avocado and crunchy lettuce. The yogurt sauce is a lovely compliment to the cakes and brings out the fresh flavor of all the herbs. I served mine with beet carrot slaw and asparagus.

cakes in a bowl

herbs, chickpeas, zucchini and shallots

grinding oats

cakes ready for oven

adding herbs

Herbed French lentil cakes with yogurt mint sauce

When shaping the cakes it is best if the ingredients are room temperature or cool. These are great to make ahead and can be shaped and stored in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

Don’t be dismayed if your cakes look a little dry and cracked on top when they come out of the oven, the bottom will be golden brown and perfectly crisp. Just flip them over as you place them on a serving platter.

Be sure to use gluten free oats if you want these to be gluten free.

1 cup French lentils

3 bay leaves

2 inch piece kombu

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained well

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing cakes

2 large shallots, diced (2 cups total)

Sea salt

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 medium zucchini, grated

½ cup regular rolled oats

3 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped

½ cup chopped dill

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Black pepper

Yogurt mint sauce to serve, recipe below

Wash lentils and place in a small pot. Cover with 1 inch of filtered water, add bay leaves and kombu and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but not falling apart. Remove from heat and compost bay leaves and kombu. Strain lentils and set aside to cool and drain well.

Place chickpeas in a large bowl and mash, using a potato masher. Set aside.

Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat; add shallots and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and garlic and continue cooking for another few minutes. Remove from heat and add to the chickpeas. (Don’t wash the skillet)

Warm remaining tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat and add zucchini and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat and add to the chickpea-shallot mixture.

Place oats in a spice grinder or Cuisinart and pulse briefly 3 times, oats should be coarsely ground. Add them to the bowl, along with capers, dill, parsley, cilantro, mint, balsamic vinegar and lentils. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly brush with olive oil and set aside.

Using a 1/3 cup dry measure; rinse with water and press cake mixture into measure and then flip onto tray. It helps if you rinse measure occasionally, so the mixture comes out easily. You could also shape these by hand.

Repeat with remaining mixture. Gently brush tops and sides of cakes with olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, turn tray around and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

To serve; slide a spatula under each cake and flip onto plates so they sit bottom side up.

Makes 15 (1/3 cup) cakes

Yogurt mint sauce

I used a small 6 ounce container of yogurt that was quite thin, so I added some Greek yogurt to give it more body. You could use a thicker whole milk yogurt and skip the Greek yogurt.

6 oz. whole milk yogurt

4 oz. Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons minced dill

10 fresh mint leaves, chiffonade

1 very small cove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon sea salt or more to taste

Pinch black pepper

Place everything in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for a spoon on each cake.

POSTED IN Gluten free, Mains

TAGGED UNDER: chickpeas, dill, oats, parsley

never miss a recipe!


  • Maree says:

    These burgers look great ..we are always on the lookout for a good vegetarian burger…a must try.
    Have also just tried your cauliflower soup recipe ….yummmmmm…loved it!
    Love your blog …Maree

  • emmycooks says:

    We had these for dinner tonight! What a nice way to perk up a leftover pot of lentils. That zucchini in there is genius, it completely saved these from the usual (dry) fate of a bean/lentil burger.

  • I was looking for a recipe like this and this sounds perfect! I am totally going to try doing a lentil cake since I need something that I can bring with me to work and eat quickly, plus that dipping sauce sounds amazing!

  • bek says:

    I stumbled across your website yesterday and so happy I did, all your recipes look scrumptious. I was even more excited to read that you cooked for Natalie Portman (my favourite actress)! I have just tried to make these lentil cakes however found my mixture a bit dry and they tended to fall apart when I tried to flatten them out a bit from my 1/3 cup measure. Do you know where I could have gone wrong? Prehaps my zucchini was a little small and didn’t add enough moisture. Also was wondering how long you could keep the uncooked mix in the fridge for and if you could freeze it?
    Thanks for your time 🙂

  • Amy – so excited about this recipe. I’m on a veeery strict diet for the next year or so (the Gerson Therapy) but with a tiny bit of tweaking I can make these little patties. With this diet I’m getting remarkably set in my culinary ways (i.e. boring) for someone who loves to cook, eat and enjoy, so thank you for the inspiration! Lucie x

  • Carol says:

    These burgers will be perfect for my summer picnic but I don’t have access to kombu. Can I used something else in its place? Perhaps vegetable broth? Thanks!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      You can leave the kombu out. I add it to help make the lentils more digestible and its rich in minerals. Have a great picnic!

  • Krystyn says:

    Just made these for lunch – added a teaspoon of lemon zest and a scattering of toasted to the mix. Absolutely delicious! What a fantastic vegan lunch.

  • Krystyn says:

    *toasted pinenuts!

  • Beth says:

    Amy, this is a question on how to print recipes–is there any way to print just the recipes instead of everything? I thought it might be helpful for others to know as well. Thanks. Amy–I cannot wait to try the recipe out–the lentil cakes.

  • Kate says:

    Hi Amy,

    These sound delicious. I’m not supposed to eat chickpeas/garbanzo beans: any substitute you can recommend?


    PS: My friend in NYC worked with you and learned so much & came away enjoying cooking

  • Anna Belle says:

    Can these burgers be frozen and reheated later?

  • Peter says:

    I love your blog, and all of the recipes I have used have always turned out amazing! I have a question about the lentils for the cakes. The recipe calls for 1c of French lentils. Is that 1c of cooked or 1c of dry lentils? Thank you for all these great recipes.

  • Lauren says:

    Hi Amy,
    I was just wondering is there a substitute for zucchini? Love the sound of the recipe except zucchini are not in season at the moment

  • Eleftheria Kostadi says:

    I keep making those lentil cakes, over and over again and I love them more and more every time. They are superb as a burger too, with crunchy vegetables and the yogurt sauce. Thank you, Amy!

Leave a Reply