I’ve been trying for some time now to make a really decent bean cake. I’ve tried with black beans, lima beans, and lentils so far. And nothing has really worked out well until these particular lentil cakes. And let me tell you now, I thought these were going to be another big fat fail. Let’s talk about what I did. What I have here is more a process than anything. I’ve type this whole process out at the end of the post to help you out if you choose to try. Be aware that nothing is measured at this point. My next step is to make this recipe a bit more exact, which I will share at a later date. For now, let’s just talk about how it is basically done.
Some time back, I asked a reader here on Not Exactly Bento, Aimee, if she would share her recipe with me for her bean cakes. Aimee posts a daily bento photo to Facebook. She makes bentos for her DH and often includes a bean cake in the bento. Aimee sent me her process and we chatted a bit through FB about it. I also read Bittman’s instructions and went from there.
I started out with some basic ingredients. One pound of cooked lentils that I had already mashed. Some diced bell pepper. A bit of apple cider vinegar to offset the sweetness of the bell pepper (thank you everyone for helping me with that on the last recipe question). Salt, pepper, ground flax seed, and grated garlic. I also had some whole wheat flour on hand. Aimee’s process stated that was how she bound her mixture together.
First, we start with several pounds of cooked lentils. 3/4 of the lentils were mashed and 1/4 was left whole. The process I give below, I chose to work with just 1 pound of lentils. Which is going to be my plan in the future. This was a way large batch.
Finely diced bell pepper. I didn’t cook this bell pepper first. The first batch of lentil cakes I tried didn’t work out so well. They didn’t take very long to cook which meant that the bell pepper was still a bit raw tasting. Next time, I think I will cook these about halfway through before adding them to the mix. However, the revised process, which did work, cooked the bell through better and tasted fine.
I also threw in the salt, pepper, flax seed, and grated garlic. I decided to grate the garlic rather than just dice it small. I was hoping it would mix through well that way. Not sure if it really made a difference or not.
I also splashed in a bit of apple cider vinegar at this point, then mixed everything well.
Next, I threw in about a tablespoon of flour. I mixed. This didn’t seem to be working for me. Things weren’t gelling together.
I threw in several more tablespoons of flour and mixed. Again, worry set in. The mixture didn’t seem to be holding everything together. I started to wonder if I had mashed my lentils a little too well. Plus the addition of the apple cider vingar and the watery bell pepper was making everything a bit loose.
I attempted to form a few patties. Four were going to be my test batch. Things weren’t looking too well. I had a feeling these were going to fall apart.
I decided to flour the outside of the cake, thinkign this might help them from falling apart. It was a good thought, just not the right thought.
It didn’t help. These things were hard to flip in the pan. One of them completely fell apart on me. And they just didn’t taste right texturally to me. It tasted like fried mashed bean rather than a put together bean cake or bean burger. At this point, I abandoned taking pictures and tried to salvage everything. I didn’t want to throw it all away.
I pulled two ingredients out of Mark Bittman’s recipe for bean cakes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: rolled oats and an egg. I mixed an egg and about 1/2 cup of rolled oats into the patties. This changed the whole consistency of the mixture. Things started to come together. I formed patties. They looked like a patty. Not a flat, pathetic bit of mush.
The patties cooked up really well. Things looked great and tasted much better. I really liked these. They were also really easy to freeze and reheated well.
I plan to experiment with bean cakes in the very near future. I have a few ideas:
Revise my bean cake attempt from the Dottie’s Chili attempt. Those bean cakes failed miserably.
Make black bean cakes with fajita seasoning.
Try chickpea cakes with the seasoning I used for kibi awhile back. (I’m not sure if I’ll like this, but I plan to try it out).
Make lima bean cakes again, this time using this process. Just have to decide on seasonings.
Finally, use Bittman’s recipe for White Beans – Tuscan style and turn them into bean cakes.
Yeah, I have alot of plans. We’ll see if they all work out!
Lentil Cakes: A process
Made possible by Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and reader Aimee.
Lentils for this recipe must be cooked ahead of time then cooled. To cook my lentils, I add lentils to a pot of salted water with 2 bay leaves. Heat is set to a high heat to bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, heat is lowered to a simmer and lentils are checked ever 15 minutes until they are tender. Drain the lentils, and let cool. Once cool, place in a covered dish and refrigerate overnight. If you cook more than you need for the process below, freeze the cooked lentils for later use. Lentils freeze really well.
To make the bean cakes:
- One pound of cooked lentils – 3/4 of these lentsil should be placed in a food processor and pulsed a few times. Or you can mash really well with a fork or other kitchen utensil that will mash them up. The remaining lentils will be left whole.
- Grate one clove of garlic. Gather the rest of the needed ingredients: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tbl apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup diced bell pepper, and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp ground flax seed (optional).
- Mix the lentils, grated garlic, and all other seasonings together in a big bowl. Feel free to give it a slight taste to see if it is to your liking. Adjust seasonings.
- Next, add in 1 egg and 1/4 cup of rolled oats (not the instant kind). Mix together. The mixture should get a nice heavy, dense feeling. If it seems a bit loose still, try added a tablespoon more oats until it is to your liking.
- Form the mixture into small patties using a tablespoon. These should come together well, almost like a meat patty does.
- Heat a 1-2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet and heat on a medium setting. Once the oil is heated, add 3-4 bean cakes to the pan, more or less depending on the size of your pan. Don’t overcrowd the patties.
- When the patties are nicely browned on one side, carefully flip over and brown on the other side.
- Remove to a towel lined plate or cookie sheet. Serve warm with a favorite side.
To Freeze the bean cake:
- Place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
- Lay bean cakes out individually.
- Place in freezer.
- Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.
- Can be taken out individually, and microwaved for 20 seconds before placing in bento (if you want to).