Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters paired with a seriously addictive curried cashew cream sauce AKA your new favorite way to use split red lentils!
This post is sponsored by Lentils.org. All opinions are my own. #LoveALentil #LetsLentil
So tell me, how do you feel about lentils? It’s no secret that I love them- I’ve already got lots of lentil goodness on the blog, but I recently visited Seskatchawan, Canada to learn about all things lentils, and I have to say I have such a newfound appreciation for them!
I was invited there by Lentils.org, where Emily from West of the Loop, Samantha from Five Heart Home, Taylor from Food Faith Fitness and I received a serious education on lentils and got to sample several incredible lentil recipes throughout the day. Let me tell you, the things you can do with lentils…I never knew such possibilities existed!
I’ll get into them in a minute, including these Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters that I know you’re going to dig, but first, let’s recap the trip and all the cool lentil facts I learned along the way!
We started the day at Simpson Seeds, a fourth generation family-run farm in Moose Jaw (yes you read that right). They not only grow lentils and other crops, but also harvest quality lentil seeds to market to other Canadian farmers, AND they operate a processing facility that enables them to clean, sort and prepare lentils for global exporting.
We got to see the lentils at every stage, which was super informative. Here we learned what a lentil plant actually looks like, and I was surprised to discover that only 1-3 lentils grow on each lentil pod. No wonder the lentil crops seemed to stretch on for miles and miles! One of the lentil farmers also described to us how they intentionally rotate the lentils with other crops, such as canola, in order to maintain optimal soil nutrient levels.
We also got to snack on some very tasty lentil pumpkin muffins while we toured the fields!
Then it was on to the processing facility where we learned about how lentils are sorted into different grades. Grade A makes it into the grocery stores for you and I to consume, while lower grades are used for things like grain-free pet food or fertilizer for future crops- I loved that fact that nothing ever goes to waste!
Next up- cleaning and sorting. We were able to observe all kinds of fancy machinery in action that does everything from removing debris to sorting the lentils by color and size! We were all amazed by the color sorting machine in particular. It uses infrared technology to detect variations in color and then shoots a directed puff of air to remove any lentils that don’t make the cut!
Finally the lentils are bagged and placed into shipping containers for delivery to destinations across the globe. All of these measures ensure that the lentils you and I end up purchasing at the store are uniform and of the highest quality. It was very cool to see all the care and integrity that went into the whole process- It definitely gives the term farm-to-table a much deeper meaning for me!
After our farm tour was finished we headed to Common Cafe & Bakery for a yummy lentil lunch (lentil curry soup and a lentil brownie- amazing), then it was straight on to a lentil-themed cooking lesson at Schoolhaus Culinary Arts, where Chef Renee walked us through some really creative lentil applications!
First up was a killer lentil sweet potato dip- I loved the flavor combo so much that it ended up becoming half of the inspiration for my Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters…the other half came from something we had for dinner later that evening- more on that in a sec! Next we made a coconut and ginger scented lentil barley side dish (DEF making this one on repeat) and the lesson was capped off with a batch of banana coconut lentil energy bites. With this recipe especially I was able to experience how flavor-neutral lentils can be in certain uses, making them perfect for sneaking extra protein and nutrition into things like smoothies and baked goods.
I told you guys, you can do SO much with lentils!
The day ended with yet another eye-opening lentil-centric meal at Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar. What stood out to me most during this meal (besides the lentil FRIES and lavender lentil shortbread cookies- like whoa) were the lentil fritters that we enjoyed as the first course. One bite and I knew I had to recreate my own version to share with you when I got back.
Before I get into the Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters, let me share a few reasons why you NEED to be cooking with lentils:
- They’re super high in fiber and protein, making them a wonderful nutrient dense plant-based option. One serving contains 6 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein!
- Lentils contain high levels of folate, iron, potassium, zinc and loads of other nutrients.
- They’re SUPER versatile. Hello! If you couldn’t gather based on alllll the different types of lentil recipes we sampled on this trip, they can be used for SO much more than soups and stews. From side dishes to salads, to breakfasts and even desserts, lentils fit seamlessly into any part of your meal.
- Lentils are easier and much faster to prepare than you might think. Unlike dried beans, they don’t need to be soaked prior to cooking, and the cooking time for whole lentils is only about 15-20 minutes (split lentils only take 5-7 minutes!)
So let’s dig into these Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters, shall we? I know you’re going to love them as much as I do. Since I was so taken with the combination of lentil and sweet potato in the dip we made at the culinary class, I decided to use quick-cooking split red lentils and roasted sweet potato to form the base of these fritters. I threw in a few other things- chickpea flour, spices, onion, garlic, hemp seeds, and fresh parsley- and then whizzed it up in the food processor.
I then rolled the mixture into balls, tossed them in gluten free breadcrumbs and gave them a quick chill in the freezer just to help them keep their shape when frying. An easy pan-fry is the last step, and you’ve got yourself crunchy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters!
You know I had to pair my fritters with a dank sauce, so I made a curried cashew cream sauce that I currently want to slather on EVERYTHING. The inspiration for it came from a dinner I had in Sebastopol at a food photography workshop just before this lentil trip. On the last night a private chef came in and made us dinner- it was such a treat as a chef myself to be served for a change! I loved watching Chef Green from Off the Cuff Eats do his thing and observe his process. He made a similar sauce for one of the earlier courses paired with beets, and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind since. Pairing my own version with these Lentil Sweet Potato Fritters seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit it.
So there you have it- lots of reasons to #LoveALentil! I’m so grateful to Lentils.org for giving me the opportunity to learn all about lentils. I’ll certainly be incorporating them into even more of my recipes at home and here on LPE.
LENTIL SWEET POTATO FRITTERS
FOR THE CURRIED CASHEW CREAM SAUCE:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
- t teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime
FOR THE LENTIL SWEET POTATO FRITTERS:
- 1/2 cup split red lentils, rinsed
- 1 sweet potato, roasted, cooled, peeled and cubed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
- 1/2 cup cherries, halved and seeds removed
- Micro greens
Place cashews, curry powder, turmeric, salt, coconut milk and lime juice in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. If a thinner consistency is desired add additional coconut milk or water 1 tablespoon at a time and blend again until desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 5-7 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and spread on a baking sheet to cool quickly.
Add cooled lentils, sweet potato, garlic, red onion, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chickpea flour, parsley and hemp seeds to a food processor. Pulse until combined.
Shape mixture into tablespoon-sized rounds. Roll each round in breadcrumbs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes to chill.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add lentil sweet potato fritters (do this in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan). Fry for about 3-4 minutes, turning so that browning on all sides is achieved. Set on paper towels to drain.
To serve, spoon cashew curry sauce onto plates. Top with fritters. Garnish with cherries, micro greens, hemp seeds and parsley.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lentils.org. The opinions and text are all mine.