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Vegetarian Dishes With Beans, Lentils and Grains

Updated on September 7, 2016

I grew up eating a mostly vegetarian diet, and learned that this form of protein is just as good as meat and poultry. People also are a bit too obsessed with protein, and the truth is protein can be found in ever food source, including vegetables and fruit. Also, in this economy it is often more economical to buy a bag of dried beans or lentils than a small chicken or steak, so there are other incentives to changing over to vegetarian fare for a few meals a week.

When I was young some people used to stare at me, or make silly comments about "why you do not want to eat a burger?", but after awhile you just smile and eat what tastes good to you. I love lentils and rice, which is a Syrian dish called mujadara that my grandpa ate growing up as a little boy in Indiana. My dad also told fond stories of how his grandma made him mujadara and kibbe, but I prefer a vegetarian version of the latter dish as I do not enjoy eating lamb. Another vegetarian dish I love is black bean burgers, which are a great way to use up some of those cans sitting around in your pantry. Dress up vegetarian cuisine with herbs and spices, and if the most hardy of meat eaters will not notice the lack of meat. Well I am sure if you prefer a hamburger that will remain your preference over making a veggie burger, but some of these recipes might tempt you to try the veggie alternative for a change in menu.

When I am running low of groceries I would rather use the healthful ingredients in my fridge than run to the store to buy new groceries.  One day I was playing around in the kitchen and came up with this fried spicy potato recipe that contains salsa and black beans.  This was a great left over, and here are the impromptu ingredients I included:

  • seven cut up potatoes with the skins on
  • a cup of salsa
  • a cut up onion
  • a cup of canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of black beans

First I sauteed the onions in canola oil, and then I added the potatoes.  Once the potatoes had begun to fry I added the black beans and the salsa, and let the potatoes finish cooking through.  This was a fun dish for lunch that has a Southwestern flair.

Lentils and rice with cilantro, which is my own interpretation of this dish.
Lentils and rice with cilantro, which is my own interpretation of this dish.

Mujadara: Syrian Lentils and Rice

My grandpa always told fond stories about this dish, and the wonderful thing about it is that it is tasty and cheap.  Lentils and rice are still a popular dish in the Middle East, but this was a dish my great-grandma used to make and that I heard many stories about.  Lentils are rich in protein and fiber that are part of the legume family.  Like beans lentils are a good alternative for vegetarian main dishes, or just for those days when people do not want to eat meat.  Here is a simple and easy recipe for making tasty lentils and rice:

  • two cups of chopped onions   
  • half a cup of olive oil    
  • one cup of lentils     
  • one cup of long grain rice    
  • six cups of water    
  • two teaspoons of salt
  • half a lemon         

Cook the lentils in the water for thirty minutes.  As the lentils are simmering, sautee the onions in the olive oil under very low heat until  translucent.  After the lentils have cooked for thirty minutes add the rest of the ingredients to the pan to simmer for twenty more minutes.  Once the lentils have finished cooking squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to add flavor.  These is a hardy dish that you can make in large patches to freeze for use throughout the week or month.

Vegetarian Kibbee

Kibbee is a grain rich dish that my great-grandma used to make, but she liked to put lamb in it. Since I am vegetarian I do not like to eat lamb, so I thought a vegetarian alternative would be a nice thing to try. This is a recipe that I have shaped to meet my own simplistic tastes when it comes to preparing food, and a traditional kibbee dish would be much more elaborate.

  • one cup of veggie burger or one cup of chopped and sauteed eggplant (you decide)
  • one cup of finely chopped onion
  • half a cup of bulgar wheat
  • a teaspoon of basil
  • a teaspoon of oregano
  • a teaspoon of chilli pepper
  • a half cup of olive oil

Lightly sauté the onions in a pan and then add the veggie burger or eggplant, depending on which one you want for this dish. Soak the bulgar wheat in a cup of water for fifteen minutes as you are sauteing the veggie burger/eggplant. After the eggplant/veggie burger is cooked through add to a glass bowl and set aside. Drain the water out of the bulgar wheat, and then add it to the bowl with the veggie burger/eggplant. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Use your hands to shape the mixture into small patties, and then place these on a non-stick cookie sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees while you are shaping the kibbee paties, and then place these in the oven to bake for about half an hour, or until the paties are golden brown. Kibbee paties taste great dipped in yogurt of your choice, are inside a pita bread with a little bit of romaine lettuce and tomato.

Black Bean Burgers: Yum, Yum!

Here is the first recipe for black bean burgers, which are flavorful and tasty:

  • one fifteen ounce can of drained black beans
  • one cup of oatmeal
  • half a cup of shredded carrot
  • half a cup finely diced celery
  • half a teaspoon of garlic salt
  • a dash of pepper
  • half a teaspoon basil
  • half a teaspoon oregano
  • two beaten eggs
  • a drizzle of hot sauce

Lightly mash the black beans and add all ingredients, and then let to mixture sit for five minutes. Use your finger to form the mixture into patties, which you can fry in a bit of oil for five minutes on each side. If you do not want to use oil, then place the patties on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake in a 300F degree oven for ten minutes on each side. These burgers taste great on a sesame seed bun with Romain lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes.

Pinto Bean Burgers

Pinto beans are the refried beans used in many Mexican dishes. Stock up on cans of refried beans at the supermarket to make this tasty bean burger.

  • One fifteen ounce can pinto beans, drained, or a can of refried pinto beans.
  • half a cup of finely diced onion
  • half a cup of finely chopped celery
  • half a cup of shredded carrot
  • half a cup of quick cooking old fashioned oatmeal
  • two tablespoons cilantro,chopped
  • one beaten egg
  • half a teaspoon salt
  • dash chili pepper
  • dash cumin
  • dash garlic salt

Gingerly mash the pinto beans and add all other ingredients. If you use a can of refried beans, then there is less mashing to do, and this is much faster. Form patties out of the mixture and let it sit for five minutes. Fry the pinto bean patties in olive oil about 5 minutes each side. Eat these on a bun, or inside a pita bread pocket. If you are having a party make several different types of kibbee and vegetarian bean burgers for your guests to try.

Do you like veggie burgers?

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    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Hi AVegetariandiet,

      I really like black beans, and this was a surprising good add with the potatoes. Thanks for commenting.

    • avegetariandiet profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi sweetiepie.

      This picture of your Spicy fried potatoes with salsa and black beans looks so delicious. I have a list of the ingredients and Im about to grab them and make this for dinner. : )

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I appreciate your comments regarding my pinto bean burger recipe Cloverleaf!

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      9 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi sweetiepie, thanks for sharing these great ideas! Your pinto bean burgers sound great. I will be including a link to your hub in my next article about vegetarian recipes. Thanks and voting up!

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks Steph!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      These look great! I love lentils and black beans. So healthy! Thumbs up.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      11 years ago

      Lentils are one of my all time favorite soups to make, I usually like to add celery, carrots, fresh garlic cloves and some cayenne pepper, so yummy!

    • trish1048 profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks Sweetie,

      She's my 17 yr old kitty :)

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Glad you enjoyed this hub Trish. Love your cat picture by the way.

    • trish1048 profile image


      11 years ago

      Simple, tasty dishes, right up my alley :)

      I love beans and rice, wild rice being my favorite. I'm guessing these recipes would take a lot longer to make if you used fresh beans. Cans work for me!

      I'll be trying some of these, and like Sufi and VioletSun, have bookmarked this hub.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for all the nice comments.

    • Daddy Paul profile image

      Daddy Paul 

      11 years ago from Michigan

      I like your spice blending.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      11 years ago from Northern, California

      Sounds very good.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA


      I hope you have fun cooking :).

    • Margaridab profile image

      Margarida Borges 

      11 years ago from Lyon, France

      You make me feel hungry! ;)

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for all the lovely comment everyone!

    • VioletSun profile image


      11 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      These sound great! I am also like Sufidreamer on the lookout for recipes. Will try the potatoes with black beans, looks yummy! Thanks for sharing!

      Have bookmarked your hub and rated it up.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      They are absolutely great. I am not for changing into a vegetarian but I use them beside my meat dish. Thank you for great receipees.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Henderson 

      11 years ago from Cape Coral

      Great Recipes!

    • Megavitamin profile image


      11 years ago

      Great recipes! I've been wanting to make my own black bean burgers, so I will definitely give your recipe a try. Pinto bean burgers sound interesting--I'll add them to my "to make" list :0) Thanks for sharing!

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Hi Sufi,

      Yes I have heard there are many similarities between Greek and Middle Eastern dishes, so I would love those I am sure. Really hope I can visit Greece one day, and I was remarking on how beautiful the Greek scenery was when I saw the movie My Life in Ruins. Cracked wheat also works in place of the oat meal :).

    • Sufidreamer profile image


      11 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      They sound wonderful, SweetiePie - I am always on the lookout for new pulse recipes, and the Kibbee sounds right up my street. I might have to change a couple of things (no oatmeal here, so I will try breadcrumbs), but I will give it a go.

      If you ever manage to visit us over here, I will show you a few Greek vegetarian dishes - including lentil soup :D

      Bookmarked for future reference :)


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