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Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Cakes with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

March Cooking By Color – Orange

Howdy folks! Happy Meatless Monday to ya! Did you have a good weekend? If you usually read my blog through Google Reader you will need to switch Readers because that one died. I don’t want you to miss any delicious recipes so check out Feedly. You can also subscribe with your email address, which is the best way never to miss a post!

Now we discuss important matters. Would you call lentils red or orange? They are named “red” lentils but they look orange to me before and after cooking. So I decided to make something with them for our orange month. But who knows, I may make something with them in the red month too (I’m kind of crazy like that). They are so versatile and delicious, but I often overlook them for their green counterparts.

Red lentils always dissolve and become smooth and creamy when you cook them. Most often they are found in Indian dishes like dahl and curry, and the Ethiopian dish Mesir Wat. Natural sweet and delicious, you really don’t have to do much to them to make them taste good.


I paired them with yam (or sweet potato) to make a mini burger/cake type thing. Chickpea (Garbanzo) flour and flax meal helped bind it all together but you could probably use whole wheat flour or barley if you aren’t gluten-free or can’t access chickpea flour. Topping these cakes are a bright and spring-like pesto.

pumpkin seed pesto

I’m known for my non-traditional pestos. Have you noticed how expensive pine nuts are these days??!! So we swap them out for pumpkin seeds in this pesto recipe but you can pretty much use any nut or seed that strikes your fancy. You can also use any variety of herbs in your pesto besides basil. We use parsley this time, but I used cilantro, mint, dill and a combination of herbs before. They are all delish and have unique flavor profiles.

This recipe takes about 20 minutes of active time so you can do your laundry or make a nice big kale salad to go along with it during the inactive time. It’s completely gluten-free, oil-free, low-fat, and will make your belly happy!

Keep an eye out next month for a beet pesto during our Red month!

What does your favorite pesto contain?

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Cakes with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Cakes with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Makes 3 to 4 servings

1/2 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cup water or veggie broth
1 cup sweet potato or yam, small cubes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup water or veggie broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon flax meal
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 25 minutes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Water, as needed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon white miso
Dash maple syrup
Dash garlic powder
Dash cumin
Dash cayenne
Sea salt, if needed

Bring red lentils and water to a boil in small saucepan. Simmer for about 25 minutes until lentils are soft and tender and no water remains. Meanwhile, add sweet potato, onion, water, and spices to a skillet and bring to a boil. Simmer with lid on until sweet potato is nice and tender. Remove lid and simmer until no water remains. Place in a bowl with cooked lentils and remaining ingredients. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Scoop about 1 tablespoons of the sweet potato lentil mixture onto the cookie sheet and continue with the remaining batter spacing them apart by 1 inch. You should get about 16 cakes. Lightly press down on each one and form into a circle. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Blend all the pesto ingredients until well combined. Add water as needed to get a nice consistency. I like it a little chunky and added about 5 tablespoons of water. Serve each cake with a dollop of pesto on top.

Do you have a favorite recipe using red lentils? Have you tried my Curry-Red Lentil Corn Chowder (Blissful Bites pg. 69)? It’s mind-blowing!

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  1. Made these this evening and shared them with the neighbors. They were so good. The neighbors were so thrilled, they asked for the recipe and had a few more. Thank you Christy.

  2. This looks AMAZING.

    I have recently discovered oat flour and chickpea flour, so look forward to making this soon.

    Thanks also for this creative use of pumpkin seeds. I long ago gave up on pignoli unless I am feeling super-extravagant. However, I have used sunflower seeds and walnuts in pestos previously, just hadn’t thought of using pumpkin seeds, but of course!

    I have been using newsblur.com as my google reader replacement, and like it fine. Will see you over there!

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