Lentil & vegetable kefta that are vegan, grain-free and nut-free! High in protein and low in calories (9 grams protein &156 calories per 3 generous kefta), they make a great meal, snack or appetizer.
Kefta. You may know all about them. If not, allow me to make the introduction.
Kefta is a popular street food from Morocco. Typically skewered and cooked over an open flame, it is made with minced meat (typically lamb, but also beef), a multitude of spices and fresh herbs. Think of it as a spicy, oblong, grilled meatball.
No one true recipe for kefta exists, which is why I feel perfectly justified in generating my own unique take: Lentil & Vegetable Kefta.
Vegan Kefta made with Lentils
Like my Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs from earlier this week, these kefta are:
- High in protein (9 grams for 3 generously-sized kefta)
- Very high in fiber
- Low Calorie
Ingredients for the Lentil Kefta
Making these delicious kefta requires familiar ingredients: uncooked lentils, carrots, onion, flaxseed meal, coconut flour, fresh herbs (I used mint and cilantro), and generous amounts of lots of garlic and ground spices.
Partially Cook the Lentils
To begin, cook the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover the lentils by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer for 10 minutes.
You’re aiming for mostly, but not entirely, cooked lentils. They should be soft, but still have a bit of bite, and definitely not falling apart.
Immediately rinse the cooked lentils under cold water (to stop further cooking) and drain. Place the lentils in a food processor, followed by all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the coconut flour. Pile it in!
Pulse the Lentils & Vegetables in a Food Processor
Pulse all until you are left with a finely chopped mixture. Stop well short of creating a paste, but aim for a relatively uniform consistency.
Also, sop to scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl several times so that the mixture is evenly chopped. Let no chunks go unchopped :).
Add the Coconut Flour
All that remains to do, before shaping, is to stir in the coconut flour.
You can pulse in the flour, while the lentil mixture is still in the food processor, but I prefer to transfer everything for a bowl. I don’t like working out of the food processor bowl when I am trying to scoop out the lentil mixture to shape the kefta. It’s your call, though, so do what works for you!
Give the mixture a tiny taste. Based on the flavor, you can add more salt or pepper, or even more spices, according to your tastes.
Shape the Kefta
Before you begin to shape, preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and lightly oil or spray a large rimmed baking sheet.
Gather approximately 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the lentil mixture into a ball and then begin shaping with your hands to form an oblong/oval. It should be about 2.5 inches/6.35 cm long. These are your kefta.
Place the kefta on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Bake for 33 to 38 minutes until golden brown and the surface of the meatballs looks somewhat dry, like so
Give the Kefta a Brief Broil
I have one last step to give the kefta some extra crispness and color. Remove the kefta from the oven. Position an oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the broiler heat source and preheat the broiler to HIGH.
Spray the kefta with oil (from an oil mister) or with nonstick cooking spray. Broil for 45 to 90 seconds until a deeper brown. Watch closely! I got distracted with one of my test batches and ruined them! Learn from my errors.
Now these are some beautiful kefta!
Serve warm, room temperature, or cold with salads, flatbread, as part of a wrap, as a snack, or an appetizer.
If desired, serve with some harissa and chopped mint or cilantro, as pictured. They are also great with plain yogurt (dairy-free, or dairy, if you eat dairy), or one of my favorite instant sauces: hummus sauce, which is simply hummus thinned with some cold water. Delicious need not be hard!
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
Lentil and vegetable kefta that are vegan, grain-free and nut-free! High in protein and low in calories (9 grams protein &156 calories per 3 generous kefta), they make a great meal, snack or appetizer.
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 2 medium-large carrots (about 150 g/5.3 oz), trimmed, peeled, cut into chunks
- 1 large onion, ends trimmed, peeled, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and enough water to cover by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes (the lentils will be slightly undercooked). Drain and rinse under cool water. Place lentils in a food processor.
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray (or lightly oil the sheet).
- Add the carrots, onion, cilantro, mint, garlic, flaxseed meal, cumin, paprika, coriander, optional cinnamon, salt and pepper to food processor with lentils. Pulse, using on/off pules, until finely chopped, but not a paste (see photo), scraping sides and bottom of bowl several times so that the mixture is evenly chopped.
- Scrape mixture into a bowl and and stir in the coconut flour until blended. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Shape 1/4-cupfuls of mixture into long ovals (about 2.5 in/6.35 cm long). This should yield 21 kefta. Place on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
- Bake for 33 to 38 minutes until golden brown and surface appears dry. Remove from oven.
- Position oven 6 to 8 inches from broiler source. Preheat oven broiler to high. Spray kefta with oil (from oil mister) or nonstick spray. Broil for 45 to 90 seconds until a deeper brown (*watch closely! do not walk away or they can burn).
- Serve warm, room temperature or cold with salads, flatbread, as part of a wrap, as a snack, or an appetizer. If desired, serve with some harissa and chopped mint or cilantro, as pictured.
Storage: Store the cooled kefta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week or the freezer for up to 6 months.
Lentils: I used common brown lentils, but you can use any variety of lentils in this recipe. If using split lentils (e.g., red), you may only need to cook 1-2 minutes less.
- Category: Entree
- Serving Size: 3 kefta
- Calories: 156
- Sugar: 3.3 g
- Sodium: 270.7 mg
- Fat: 1.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 26.3 g
- Fiber: 10.9 g
- Protein: 9.1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg