About two years ago as we took our first baby steps into the whole food plant based world, I came across the idea to use a mixture of lentils and bulgar wheat to replace ground meat. We had never eaten a lentil or heard of bulgar. Two years later and we now use this bulgar lentil mixture in chili, lasagna, meatballs, and hamburgers. It freezes well (and thaws well too – which is more important to me). It has become a true food staple in our kitchen.
Lentils are tiny, round, and come in a variety of colors. They are loaded with protein and a staple in any plant based diet. For the full nutrition profile, history, and benefits of lentils read here. Lentils are made in about 20 minutes start to finish, and don’t need to be soaked ahead of time.
Bulgar wheat is a high in protein and minerals, low in fat whole grain. Full nutrition details here. It can be found in bulk sections of health food stores, packaged among other grains (we buy Bob’s Red Mill Red Bulgar), or online. Bulgar is ready to go in 15 minutes, making it fast and convenient.
1 lb of meat = 1 cup dried lentils/bulgar (1:1 ratio) = 2 (generous) cups of cooked bulgar/lentil mixture
To completely replace meat altogether, I use a 1:1 ratio of bulgar to lentils. Any recipe can easily be converted by changing pounds of meat into cups of dried lentils/bulgar. When making hamburgers which calls for 2lbs of ground meat, I use 1 cup dried lentils and 1 cup dried bulgar.
To extend meat I break down the total pounds between pounds of meat and dried cups of lentil/bulgar. When making lasagna I usually make up a triple or quadruple batch, which means I need 4lbs of meat. I use 1 lb of ground meat for flavor and the other 3 lbs translates to 1.5 cups of dried lentils and 1.5 cups dried bulgar (3 cups total dried bulgar/lentil + 1 lb meat = 4 lbs).
Put 1 cup of lentils in a pot with at least 2 cups of water (be generous). Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
Put 1 cup of bulgar in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. The water will be almost completely gone (like rice) and the bulgar will be soft.
Rinse and drain the lentils.
Combine the lentils and bulgar in a large bowl.
Combine them together with a potato masher or fork.
Now you are ready to use your “meat” in any of your favorite recipes. Remember 2 generous cups of the bulgar/lentil mixture = 1 lb of meat.