A few weeks ago my family and I were sweltering in the 110 degree heat of Redding while eating dinner under the Sundial Bridge. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we only stayed in Redding for one night—it was all we needed to hit Redding’s high points. Anyways, we found a Trader Joe’s on the way to the bridge and picked up dinner there. I grabbed one of their Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce and expected it to be good, but nothing out of the ordinary. As it turns out, it was easily the best meal I’ve ever had from a grocery store. The wrap is filled with a spicy red pepper paste, and a lentil and bulgur mixture that’s flavored with cumin and caramelized onions. A handful of shredded cabbage and a drizzle of spicy tahini sauce adds the perfect amount of freshness. Needless to say, I was determined to recreate this once I got home from vacation.
With a little help from The Kitchn’s website, I found out that the lentil filling is a traditional Armenian dish called kufta, however in this case the lentils are not formed into disks and fried, but rather used as a filling. Using The Kitchn’s recipe as a guide, I first streamlined it to reduce the number of dirty dishes and fiddled with some of the ingredients to shorten the overall cooking time. After assembling the wraps with the red pepper paste, then lentils, cabbage, and tahini, I grilled them with a touch of olive oil to ensure that they were hot and crispy when served.
The lentil wraps were a fantastic dinner for both the vegetarians and meat eaters in my family. On top of being delicious, they’re incredibly healthy—packed full of protein, iron, and fiber from the lentils along with calcium from the tahini. And the best part? Trader Joe’s sells each of these for $3.99, while this recipe only costs $1.98 for each wrap (and I think the homemade version tastes better).
Try these for dinner, or for school lunches when school starts in just a few days; I know that you and your family will love them.
Armenian Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 4 wraps, serving 4
Red Pepper Spread:
1, 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cumin
¾ cup red lentils
½ teaspoon table salt
2 ½ cups water
1/3 cup bulgur (cracked wheat), medium grind #3
2 tablespoons minced parsley
¼ cup tahini
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced parsley
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 whole wheat lavash wraps
2 cups shredded cabbage
- Drain the red peppers and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until pureed, about 5-6 pulses. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, and once hot, pour in the red pepper puree, red pepper flakes, and table salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until reduced into a loose paste, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, and clean out the skillet (you’ll need it later on).
- While the red pepper paste is cooking, begin the lentil filling: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and once hot, add the diced onion. Cook until begin to turn golden brown, 6-8 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and cumin and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red lentils, salt, and water, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Stir in the bulgur, reduce heat to low, and let cook for another 10 minutes, then take the pan off heat and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bulgur to become tender. Stir in the parsley and set aside for assembly.
- For the tahini sauce: Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. If it seems too thick, add more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the proper consistency is achieved. Set aside until assembly.
- To assemble and serve: Heat the olive oil in the non-stick skillet from earlier. And clear a work surface that you can fit a lavash wrap on. A bare countertop or cutting board works well. Lay 1 wrap onto the work surface, and on the bottom third of the lavash, spread ¼ of the red pepper paste, then ¼ of the lentil mixture, then ½ cup shredded cabbage. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the tahini sauce, then roll up tightly. Place the wrap, seam side down, into the heated skillet, then repeat with the remaining wraps. Cook the wraps for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and hot, then slice in half diagonally and serve. Pass the remaining tahini sauce on the side for dipping.
Note: Any leftover tahini sauce is fantastic as a salad dressing or drizzled on top of grilled vegetables.