Gluten free and vegan red lentil falafel served in a naanwich, because why not? I make these lentil patties constantly, year round, and they’re a great easy source of plant based protein with a mild flavour (i.e. also great for kids). Made with soaked lentils for an easy weeknight meal or packable lunch.
I started making these little red lentil burgers about a year ago and Graham has been telling me to share them ever since. He says they remind him of chicken nuggets (gross) but can’t explain why – I love how simple and flexible they are to make. I soak and freeze jars of red lentils as part of my weekly batch cooking, but was only making this soup with them.
We were low on groceries on a weekend and the freezer was empty apart from some soaked red lentils, so I tried making burgers from them, thinking I’d end up with one giant pancake falafel. Turns out red lentils make a great solid-textured burger, but only if they’re soaked! Please don’t try this with dry or cooked lentils, you won’t like the results. Another nice thing is that since red lentils only need about an hour for a quick soak if you’re pressed for time, these work well for when there aren’t any cooked legumes on hand and you don’t have time to boil chickpeas for hours.
The plan was to share these patties in a bowl, but I had made naan and it was just good luck that I tried them in a naan taco with a big spread of hummus, greens, and pickled onions. Total sandwich ecstasy. This’d be awesome as a pita for a work/school lunch and it’s a fun dinner idea to give a few fillings with the naan and lentil falafel for a build-it-yourself meal. My roasted cauliflower taco recipe includes a note on how to pickle red onions if you’re not sure.
Any kind of pickle works in place of the onions but I think a little crunch and acid makes a big difference, and the onion is such a pretty colour. The lentil falafel are gluten/grain free with a little nuttiness from chickpea flour, which helps hold everything together. Make sure you check the tips below the recipe for some options, I’ve made these a hundred different ways!
This is a partner recipe to the easy spelt naan I posted a couple of days ago, but I often make the lentil falafel with roasted veggies, rice, potatoes, or whatever. They’re like the vegan version of chicken breast. Not sure what to make? Red lentil burgers! With anything at all!
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Red Lentil Falafel
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- A handful of parsley
- 1 cup soaked red lentils*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour**
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- Juice of a lemon
For the Naan Sandwiches:
Red Lentil Falafel
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the onion, garlic, and parsley into the bowl of a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add the lentils, oil, flour, spices, and lemon juice, then pulse until combined and you can form loose balls with the mixture.
- Form golf ball sized patties and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. They will spread slightly so leave some space between each. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and serve hot. Leftovers freeze well and can be refrigerated up to three days.
- Serve each sandwich with about a tablespoon or two of hummus, 2-3 falafel, and some rucola, pickled onions, and parsley. Yogurt is a great addition here (or tzatziki) and other veggies are nice too.
• You can also add a grated carrot to the lentil falafel (add a beet instead to make them pink), leave out the parsley or sub it for another herb like cilantro, add turmeric and other spices, or use apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice. These are very flexible.
• You can use the stems and leaves of the parsley.
* This is measured after the lentils have been soaked. Try to soak them overnight or for 24 hours, but at minimum one hour in warm water.
** I've also made these with rye flour, but prefer using chickpea flour.
This recipe originally published in January 2018. It was updated in February 2019 with new photos and some new information.