From Jim Romanoff. If you can’t find harissa (a North African chili paste), substitute any of the chili-garlic pastes you find in the grocer’s international aisle.
- 1 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fine bulgur, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon harissa (red chili) paste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 scallions, finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Boston or butter lettuce, torn into thirty 2-by-2-inch pieces
- Lemon wedges
In a medium saucepan, bring 21/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes. Mix in the bulgur, cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let the mixture rest until the residual liquid is absorbed by the bulgur, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the harissa and cumin, then cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
Once the lentils and bulgur are cooked (the mixture should be moderately moist like dough), add to the reserved onion mixture along with most of the scallions and parsley (reserving just enough for garnish). Season with salt and pepper, then mix well. The lentil mixture should resemble thick dough. If it still seems too damp, add more bulgur and let the mixture rest until the bulgur is no longer hard, about another 15 minutes.
Keeping your hands wet, mold about 1 heaping tablespoon of the lentil mixture into football-shaped balls. Place each ball in one of the lettuce pieces and arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with the remaining scallions and parsley and drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.
Makes about 32 lentil balls.
Per serving (per lentil ball): 45 calories; 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 29 percent calories from fat); 6 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 65 mg sodium; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber.