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Seared Red Lentil Rice Cakes With Cilantro Pesto

By Marti Wolfson

In effort to create a vegetarian dish for the Meatless Monday campaign I wanted to shake things up from the usual black bean burger and create something more colorful to the eye and equally nutritious. Lentils and rice are an everyday combination in Asia and the Middle East and a healthy one at that since legumes and rice offer up a more complete protein when consumed together. The cilantro in both the “burger” and the pesto supports the liver, not to mention its antioxidant, anticancer and antimicrobial benefits.

Makes 16 small cakes


10 cups water, divided
2 cups dried small red lentils
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 red bell pepper diced
1 small onion finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten


  1. To prepare cakes, bring 8 cups water, lentils and generous pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until softened. Drain the lentil in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water and drain further. Place lentils in a large bowl.
  2. Combine remaining 2 cups water, rice and generous pinch of salt in a pot; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool 10 minutes. Add rice to lentils.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Cool 10 minutes. Add to rice mixture along with the cilantro, breadcrumbs, egg whites and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. If the mixture is too wet add more breadcrumbs.
  4. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Shape ¼ cup spoonful of the mixture at a time into flat round cakes and place into the pan. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned on each side. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 4 minutes on other side. Remove cakes from pan. Add more oil to the pan and continue adding the cake mixture until it is used up.
  5. Repeat procedure adding more oil to the pan if it gets too dry. Serve with Cilantro Pesto.

Cilantro Pesto

Serves 6-8


1 big bunch cilantro
2-3 tablespoons walnuts
2-3 tablespoons miso paste
2 T. lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Pulse together all of the ingredients except the oil.
  2. Drizzle in oil while blade is running until emulsified.