In a recent post, I discussed the sharp hankering I sometimes get for Turkish food. The other night, that strange feeling returned, and rather than hop on the steed and drive down to one of the expensive Turkish restaurants in town, I hit the internet and started researching recipes. I decided my first Turkish cooking attempt would be one of my favorite meze dishes: Mercimek Köftesi (red-lentil meatballs wrapped in lettuce). After a quick stop at Thai Hoa, where I found my tomato paste, Indian red-lentils, and fine bulgur (I actually opted for fine couscous due to the astronomical price of bulgur, but the alternative was perfect) and a jaunt through the Phu Nhuan Market for my produce, I was ready to start cooking.
Thoroughly rinse one cup of red lentils and cook in two cups of water. Cook for about 20 minutes on low heat or until the lentils have turned to a decadent mush.
Turn off the heat and add a half cup of fine bulgur (or couscous) and salt. Stir vigorously until they are well assimilated, cover lid, and let sit for a few minutes until the bulgur softens. Let cool.
In a separate pan, saute a half cup of minced onions in two tablespoons of olive oil until soft. ( I used a bit less due to Gavin's onion intolerance, but the finished product was still overtly edible.) Also, finely chop a few stalks of raw green onion and roughly chop about a half cups' worth of parsley.
Add the sauteed onions, green onions, parsley and about a tablespoon of tomato paste to your cooled lentil mixture. Stir thoroughly until the aforementioned ingredients have combined well.
With your capable paws, form the mixture into shapely little logs.
Serve them wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves with liberal amounts of lemon squeezed on top.