Get your ingredients together: Cook the lentils according to the package directions, until tender. You will need 2 cups cooked lentils.Cook the quinoa according to the directions. You will need ½ cup cooked quinoa. Combine the ground flax + 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl and let it sit - this will be the bowl where you prepare the lentil cake mixture. Make the walnut meal, if not using store-bought (see notes).
Sauté the diced onion, chopped garlic, and sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add a little water if it gets too dry, or simply cover with a lid to keep the moisture in. Turn heat down to low and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
Add about half of the cooked lentils, the mushroom mixture, cooked quinoa, walnut meal, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dry parsley, salt, 3 tablespoons water, and coconut aminos (or soy sauce) to the bowl with the flax egg.
Use an immersion blender to mix everything together until you get a thick dough. Now stir in the remaining ~1 cup cooked lentils and mix well. Taste the mixture and add more salt, if needed.
Use your hands to form 12-15 small lentil patties. Tip: wet your hands in cold water between every few patties, to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
Preheat a large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Carefully place the lentil cakes into the skillet and sear for 2-3 minutes per side, allowing them to brown and form a crispy crust before flipping. Repeat until lentil cakes are cooked
Serve warm with garlic sauce.
Make the garlic sauce:
Add the soy milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, and cornstarch to a small saucepan. Whisk together, then cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 3-5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Remove from heat and serve over the lentil cakes (or use as a salad dressing!).
Make your own coarse walnut meal by pulsing a rounded ½ cup walnut halves or ½ cup chopped walnuts in a small food processor or blender.
You can use a large food processor to mix together the lentil mixture, instead of an immersion blender.
Lentils: Use any kind of green or brown lentils for this recipe! DO NOT USE SPLIT RED LENTILS! Anything from the cheaper Goya bag of green lentils to fancier French Le Puy lentils will work just fine. Just make sure they’re whole lentils and not split lentils (green lentils are typically whole, so no need to worry about it), because split lentils cook faster and get mushier faster.
If you don’t have smoked paprika on hand, feel free to use a few drops of liquid smoke and regular sweet paprika (or add spicy paprika for some spice). But smoked paprika is a really great ingredient to have on hand.