It is back to school season and even though my daughter is still in daycare there is a certain tension that comes with September. It always feels hectic. Work gets busy in fall and I need to have my lunch routine pat down.
Bec Dickinsion’s new Love your Lunches cookbook has been perfect for that. This little book has helped me spruce up my lunch game. I bought this book on a whim and it has easily become a recent favourite. Bec shares creative shopping lists to keep a well-stocked and easy-to-use pantry and recipes that work well for a weeknight dinner or a quick working lunch. She offers ideas based on the time you have on hand – make ahead freezer friendly meals, lunches you can easily make the night before or even throw together in the morning if you do some prep work over the weekend. Most of her recipes are vegetarian and the rest can easily be adapted. Bec has seriously given this book some though, she even has snacks to get you through the dreaded three PM slump – when I most likely to go rouge. Her snack ideas are so fun and easy to make.
These Lentil and Dukkah balls make a hearty lunch. I adapted Bec’s recipe to make it nut free and have included suggestions to make it vegan. I cut down the recipe to make about 15 lentil balls, they can be eaten on its own or in a wonderful tomato and chickpea sauce. Store bought Dukkah usually contains tree nuts, I have a nut free version included in the end to make it school lunch safe.
Lentil & Dukkah Balls// Makes 15 lentil balls
*Notes – The recipe calls for canned lentils, I cooked my own green lentils.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large zucchini, grated
- 2 cups of cooked green lentils (roughly a 19 oz can)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (Bec suggested using cashews and almonds)
- 3 tablespoon mint leaves
- 3 heaped tablespoon dukkah (recipe at the bottom)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- zest and juice of a lemon
- 2 slices of bread blitz into bread crumbs (or use about 1/2 cup of store bread crumbs)
- 1 large egg or flax egg (flax egg makes the balls a tad more crumbly)
- Salt to taste
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1/2 a cup of cooked chickpeas
- 1 red pepper, sliced length ways
- 2 cups of good quality passata
- Salt to taste
- Chopped fresh herbs for garnish mint, basil, parsley and chives
- Pasta or gain of choice
Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 C
Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until soft, add the garlic and zucchini and cook till everything is cooked through, about 5 – 7 minutes.
In a food processor add the sunflower seeds (or mixed nuts) and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the cooked lentils along with the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together.
Shape the lentil mixture into 15 balls (around 1 heaping tablespoon each). arrange it on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden. Flip the lentil balls half way through to ensure uniform baking. Brush more olive oil if required.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating oil in a medium saucepan, add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and dried chilli flakes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the red peppers, garlic, and chickpeas and cook for another 2 minutes. Now throw in rest of ingredients except the fresh herbs and simmer for 10 minutes.
Gently toss in the lentil balls. Once cooked take it off the heat and allow it to cool.
Garnish with herbs and another squeeze of lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt.
Pumpkin seed Dukkah// Makes about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 tablespoon coriander
- 1 dried red chilli
- salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan roast the sunflower seeds over medium heat until it becomes golden – about 5 minutes
Remove and let it cool. In the same saucepan roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried red chilli until fragrant about 3-4 minutes. Add it to the sunflower seeds.
Return the pan to medium heat and roast the sesame seed for until golden, about 2 minutes. Add this to the sunflower seed mixture.
Add it to a blender or food processor along with salt and pepper and blend to a coarse powder.
Store in an air tight container for about 2 weeks. It stays fresher in the refrigerator or freezer.
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