Vegetarian Lentil Kofta Kabobs

You ever have one of those moments when you’re like “I’m a freakin’ GENIUS!”?? When you pause to take in all of the brilliance that is yours, if even for a fleeting moment?

I am declaring this recipe my latest genius moment. Because, you know, these moments don’t happen every day. At least not for me. So join me as a bask in the glory of what is probably the best “swap-meat” I’ve ever pulled off.

Behold the vegetarian Kofta Kabob 

(or Kafta Kebab….you decide).

When the team over at the Recipe Redux announced that this month’s theme was all about small plates and finger foods, I had a lot of ideas. Paul and I frequently have “Tapas Night” at our house (in fact, we just had one last night!), so this one was right down my alley.

(Behold our latest Tapas Night (small bites = small pictures ;)):

One of our favorite light bites are kofta kabobs (or, more traditionally, kafta kebabs). Typically made with beef, they are amazingly flavorful and pretty easy to pull together. Plus they are a total crowd-pleaser. Since we don’t eat beef, I typically make them with ground turkey or chicken–with equally delicious results.

Then came a bowl of leftover lentils…and the moment when reconsidered their fate. Instead of an easy and healthy addition to a salad, could these lentils become a kofta? I was so fired up at the very idea that I could create a vegetarian kofta. You know what? These are the moments that keep me cooking (and blogging). It’s the constant searching for opportunities to make something healthier–even if just a little–that provides the spark that keeps me committed to living a healthy life.

Because, you know what? Healthy eating never has to be boring

And these kofta kabobs prove it.

Oh. My. God. I am way too excited about these things. I mean, it’s just lentils and a few spices…

…and the tears of unicorns–or something. I mean, they are that good! So good that maybe even your lentil-hating husband will like them. (not that I have one of those ;)).

Traditional kofta are delicious because of their irresistible combination of exotic spices and smoky grilled flavor. I love serving them to someone who has never had them before. It’s so gratifying to see someone’s face when they take that first bite. Eyes widen, mmmmm’s start developing and questions start coming. What are these spices? How did you makes this? How is it possible that that I could feel like my life was complete before I tried these?

Seriously, I love opening people’s minds to all of the possibilities that come along with healthy cooking and eating.

Kofta are typically already pretty healthy. A simple combination of ground meat and an array of spices and herbs and you’re good to go. Make them vegetarian and suddenly they’re “super-healthy”.

That’s totally a thing

These kofta have all of the same spices you’d find in a traditional recipe. What’s so amazing about this meat-swap is that the spices work equally well with lentils. The earthy nature of lentils are a natural match for the warming spiciness of cinnamon, allspice and cumin. The aleppo pepper flakes is the secret ingredient–if you’ve never used it, you’ll find yourself wanting to add it to everything. Aleppo pepper is a common addition to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and, while it has a spicy kick, it is much more refined and mild than what you’ll find in the red pepper flakes that are more common in home kitchens. Trust me, this is an ingredient is worthy of you going out of your way to get your hands on.

The eggs and coconut flour are perfect partners to help add body to the mixture and also keeps them gluten free. You’ll be molding the kofta around the skewers by hand, so make sure to divide the mixture into 8 equal portions to ensure that they all cook evenly. I baked these in the oven, and, since we had leftovers, I tossed them on the grill the next day to heat them up. These are perfect served with a traditional Tzatziki sauce and a simple salad or grilled vegetables. I crumbled the leftover kofta over salad for lunch the next day–so good!

I am so excited to hear what you all think!

Vegetarian Lentil Kofta Kabobs

servings: Makes 8 Kabobs | time: about 40 minutes

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes (1/2 tsp. if using red pepper flakes instead)

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 TBSP. chopped mint

2 eggs

3 TBSP. coconut flour

Olive oil

directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using wood skewers, soak in hot water while you prepare the kofta

  1. Place all ingredients except  coconut flour in a large bowl. Mash together with a fork until the mixture is well-combined and the lentils are lightly mashed (don’t go crazy–you’ll want the kofta to have some texture)
  2. Add the coconut flour and stir to combine. The mixture should hold together and become easy to press into kofta
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease well with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
  4. Divide recipe into 8 equal portions and, using your hands, form in consistent sizes and shapes around each skewer. Place each skewer on the prepared baking pan
  5. Brush the top of each kofta with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, turning once half-way through and brushing tops with more olive oil before placing back in oven
  6. Serve with Tzatziki sauce (here’s my favorite recipe)
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