Trying to find foods that a toddler loves to eat on a regular basis is a challenge. Toddlers can love eating something one day and refuse to touch it the next. My son has always been a good eater but the older he gets the more fickle he is about what he is willing to eat. Recently he has given up eating pasta. He used to love it. Now he firmly shuts his mouth at the sight of it. He will quite happily stuff the accompanying meatballs in his mouth one after the other, but the pasta, once loved, is left ignored. I thought it might have been my homemade tomato sauce that he didn’t like, so I referred to my Annabel Karmel toddler cook books in search of some different recipes to try. I made him two different pasta dishes to sample. He wouldn’t eat either of them. I’m blaming the pasta, not my cooking.
After realising that for now he’s not going to eat pasta, I decided to find some new recipes without pasta that I could try on his little taste buds. Annabel has a recipe for vegetable burgers that I was looking at making until I realised her burgers are made up of mainly potato. My son loves potatoes and whenever he eats a lot of them for dinner he seems to sleep later in the morning. We are big fans of potatoes. But I’m just not a big fan of them in a vegetable burger, I prefer a bit of protein in the form of beans or legumes as it’s easy to serve some potatoes on the side. So I did a bit of googling in search of some other burger recipe ideas based on what I had in my fridge and pantry. I ended up creating these little Lentil, Carrot & Cheese burgers for dinner which seem similar to falafels but are made with lentils instead of chickpeas and also have the addition of carrots and cheese. My son ate them and my husband loved them, so I deemed the recipe worthy of sharing.
Lentil, Carrot & Cheese Burgers
I made 12 mini burgers and 4 adult burgers with this recipe. Alternatively, you could make about 24 mini burgers or 8 adult burgers. If making adult burgers, I would recommend adding a chilli pepper to give the burgers a bit more heat. I omitted this when making mine and instead I served the adult burgers with piri piri sauce on top. The recipe takes about 1 hour to prepare. I made the patties up in advance then chilled them in the fridge until dinner time. Any leftovers can be frozen.
250g red lentils
1 red onion peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed,
1 red chilli pepper deseeded and chopped (optional)
2 carrots peeled and grated
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
50g cheddar cheese grated
2 slices of stale bread
1 bunch of fresh coriander
Pepper to taste
Plain flour to coat the burgers
Olive oil for frying
1. Put the lentils in a pot and cover them with cold water then bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft then drain.
2. Meanwhile, put a lug of olive oil in a pan on medium high heat and add the chopped red onion, crushed garlic, chopped chilli pepper (if using), grated carrot, ground coriander and ground cumin. Cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Add the cooked lentils to the pan with the vegetable mixture and stir continuing to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the moisture from the lentils is absorbed.
4. Whiz the bread and fresh coriander in a food processor and add it with the grated cheese to the vegetable/lentil mixture. Stir until it is combined and the cheese has melted. Season with pepper to taste.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the burger mixture to cool so that it can be handled to form patties. Shape the mixture in to burger patties, coating each with a layer of flour.
6. Fry the burgers in olive oil over a medium high heat for 5 to 7 minutes each side. Serve the burgers on buns, wraps or pitta bread with whatever garnishes and sauces that you or your toddler prefer.