When a cab driver asks you about your boyfriend, there is a narrow window of time in which you can answer before he starts to make assumptions.

If you answer quickly enough (in the affirmative. Always the affirmative. Even if you’ve been single for years. You know that coffee mug that you use compulsively every morning? It’s name is now Trevor. And it is dependable, lovable, and quite the perfect companion in every way.) he will usually leave you alone for the rest of the trip. And you’ve just saved yourself an entire cab ride of wondering at what point you should just jump out of the moving vehicle because man he has gotten creepy.

The second you pause, however. He knows the truth. And then, well. All bets are off.

Case in point.

Earlier this week I took a cab to Queens to visit my parents. The cab driver, as per usual, was being kind of sketchy. At every red light, he would turn around and leer at me. Smiling.

I, in return, attempted to look very busy with my phone. Who knew that text messaging yourself could be so riveting! Which is probably why when he asked the magic question, “So how’s your boyfriend?” I paused.

Bad Joanne! Bad! Bad! Bad!

“Eh, no boyfriend right now,” I finally answered. My voice. Shaking.

At this point, I’m looking out the window at the traffic behind us. Trying to determine, if I did have to jump, what the likelihood of me dying would be. Calculating the force with which I would hit the pavement and whether or not that would be enough to break a bone or, worse, my skull. So if F=ma and we are moving at a speed of 60 miles per hour and I weigh 52 kg then

Only to be interrupted by his next question. Which was, “What about me, I could be your boyfriend.”

Well. Shit.
My mind. Racing. Panicking.

All I wanted was to do something nice and surprise my parents and in return I am going to die. Great.

What to do. I smiled. Nervously. Laughed. Nervously. Tried to brush the whole thing off. I mean he was old. He couldn’t be serious. Right? (At least that’s what I told myself.)

(Note to all of you cab drivers out there. I don’t know if you think you’re funny. Or if you’re just trying to make conversation and don’t know what else to say. But don’t hit on the girls who ride in your cars. It is NOT okay. And it makes us uncomfortable. Because we, as passengers, are essentially powerless.)
I was really working myself into a tither. But then I remembered something.

I had pomegranate seeds for lunch. And do you know what pomegranates are?

A superfood.

And what is the point of a superfood if not to confer super POWERS onto whoever eats it? Then and there I decided. If he tried anything. I would whip his ass.

Needless to say, I got to my final destination in one piece. (Pun not intended). Not without him asking for my number, of course. So if you get a phone call from a guy named Innocent (seriously. That was his name.) looking for a girl who rode in his cab on Tuesday. I am deeply sorry. But I had to do it.

Which brings us back to the moral of the story. Unless your cab is being driven Justin Timberlake or Brad Pitt. Have a boyfriend ready for fabrication. Because you’ll regret it if you don’t.
In all seriousness. I loved this meal. The red lentil pancakes were just the right amount of spicy and were chock full of flavor. They were my first experience with savory pancakes. And will not be my last.

I paired them with a pomegranate couscous salad that I saw on Closet Cooking a while back. The original calls for pistachios, which I promptly replaced with blue cheese. Mainly because I had some in my fridge that was threatening to bite the dust at any moment. The cheese did well to cool off the spiciness of the pancake and also complemented nicely the tang of the pomegranate molasses vinaigrette (AMAZING!). Which may just be my new favorite salad dressing of all time.

Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes
Serves 4, adapted from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight and drained
2 eggs
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped scallion
1 large carrot, finely julienned or grated
salt and black pepper
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala

1. Put the lentils in a food processor and add about 3/4 cup water. Puree until a smooth and thick batter is formed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the eggs, garlic, chile, scallion, carrot, salt, pepper, ginger, and garam masala.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Ladle in the batter to form several smaller pancakes or one large one (I made four SUPER large pancakes). Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the bottom is browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes.

Pomegranate and Blue Cheese Israeli Couscous Salad
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking

1 cup Israeli couscous
4 oz pomegranate seeds
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil some water and cook couscous in it as you would pasta.

2. Make the vinaigrette by mixing together the olive oil through salt and pepper. Make the dressing saltier than you think you want it to be because the flavor is going to get dulled down when you mix it with the couscous.

3. Strain couscous and mix with the pomegranate seeds, blue cheese, mint, parsley, and vinaigrette.

The red lentil pancakes are my submission to this week’s I Heart Cooking Club, the theme of which is Caravan of Spice.

The Pomegranate and Blue Cheese Couscous Salad is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Katie of Thyme for Cooking.

Last call for entries to Regional Recipes: Haiti! (I know it was a hard country…next month will be easier I swear! But thanks to all who have participated so far!)

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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86 Responses to Bittman’s Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes with Pomegranate and Blue Cheese Couscous

  1. CREEPY!!! that has never happened to me! LOL!

    B text. showing up later on the blog

  2. Lori says:

    This is great! I love how you have combined your cab ride with the benefits of superfoods. Ha, ha! I had no idea cabs rides could be so adventurous. You are really educating me.

    I need to look into Israeli couscous. I’ve not had it before and it looks really unique with the large pieces.

  3. that is a creepy incident…but the food looks awesome. So colorful and yummy!

  4. Sorry about your cab driver! Your savory pancakes look delicious though!

  5. Ruth Daniels says:

    Your posts always make my day. Insane stories, glorious photos – truly, they get better and better with every post – and, of course delicious recipes.

    Can’t wait to try this combo. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. It’s always fantastic when you do.

  6. The cabbie really offered to be your bf? It certainly does sound creepy. And you are right about pomegranate being a super food.With all its anti-oxidant properties, which by the way is the only thing I know about it..it should be in the Top 10 Super Food list.
    Lovely pancakes and excellent POM topper. Love the last shot. What is in between the pom-arils? Bleu cheese? Split Lentil?

  7. katiez says:

    2 possible answers to the cabbie: I’m a nun; My girlfriend wouldn’t like it if I switched.

    Or you could do something rude – like pick your teeth….. Which is where I thought you were going when you mentioned the pomegranates… hahaha

    Back to the food – I just found that big couscous – from Portugal, called cuscus. Looks and sounds delicious!

  8. katiez says:

    Oh – and make that a nun who took a vow of silence…. – takes care of any more questions.

  9. Kim says:

    Forget the boyfriend – make up a story about being affiliated with the mob, or maybe not, but it could be fun. It’s always fun to mess with people when they are messing with you.

    Love the idea of a savory pancake, especially with lentils (one of my new faves). I think this is a creative and delicious combination Joanne. I should really whip this one up…I could really use some superpowers!

  10. Katerina says:

    When I was your age I had my stories with Athenian cub drivers. Curiously enough all these stories took place at night. That is even more scary. These pancakes look really good.

  11. The blue cheese and pomegranate couscous sounds amazing.

  12. Debbi Smith says:

    Glad to hear you didn’t get engaged in the cab. Really, Joanne, go to a bar if you want to meet someone!

    The pancake especially looks good! Great pictures like usual?

    I left another comment but I don’t think it posted so if this #2, sorry.

  13. Pancake with cheese couscous looks perfect n delicious dear,,filling recipe for perfect dinner.

  14. polwig says:

    You definately need an alter cab ego… make a character like a chatty cathy and next time you are asked by a cab driver spend the entire cab ride telling him how wonderfull your boyfriend is. Make sure to talk fast and not allow any comments to be made otherwise. Of course it will help if your boyfriend is a navy seal, has a black belt in karate and is waiting for you with 2 dozen roses at your final destination. He is making you dinner for you 2 month anniversary 🙂 Either better start telling him about your girlfriend that may shot him up for good.

    The food looks amazing.

  15. Awesome clicks joanne, looks delicious..

  16. Mary says:

    You’ve created another terrific meal and have intrigued with the lentil pancakes. I’m glad your superpowers are intact but really happy you didn’t have to test them. You are a “man magnet” :-). I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  17. Pam says:

    Wow, that looks great!


  18. Mari says:

    I haaaaaate when they do that! I always say I have a boyfriend! that usually stops them dead in their tracks lol

    Dude I can not wait to see you tonight! I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Dana says:

    I absolutely love red lentils but have never had them this way – what a great idea and a terrific pairing.

  20. Pam says:

    Creepy cab drivers are the WORST! I am lucky I am married and don’t have to deal with them. The savory pancakes are a great idea and paried with the pomegranite couscous salad is brilliant!

  21. Marcia says:

    Joanne, my friend, you crack me up. And make me glad that I don’t live in NYC (you know, I was JUST telling hubby last night that I think it would be cool to live in NYC for a little while. Just because.) Maybe not with the creepy cab drivers.

    Boy, those pancakes look delicious. Definitely going to try these. I love red lentils…found them at the farmer’s market actually. Didn’t buy em, but found em. And blue cheese is my friend.

  22. Marisa says:

    Poor you!!! Innocent. *Shakes head* Sheesh you NY’ers have it tough. Glad I don’t have to deal with weirdo cab drivers…

    On another note though: Those pancakes look a-freakin-mazing. I want one. No two. Make it three okay.

    And on anoooother note: Post 3 of 3 for Haiti coming up in 7 hours… 🙂 I’ll email you all the links tomorrow morning. Have a great day!

  23. Kelsey says:

    oh my, doesnt that look like christmas! look at those colors.. so beautiful. talented and beautiful-ur the best of both worlds hehe

    happy thursday love!

  24. Mo Diva says:

    OMG Joanne, this seriously makes me want to call 311 and blow the whistle on that creep. what is it about cabbies??? they are ALWAYS thinking part of their job is to hit on female passengers. and I say OH HELL NO! Im either gonna memorize the rejection hotline number or tell the nasty driver to stfu and drive before i call 311 with his id readily in front of me. see what he does then!

    all seriousness aside i laughed out loud at the segue into pomegranites. you clever little diva!

  25. I can’t get good pomegranate over here. Both your pancakes and salad are packed with all the superfood. So healthy and delicious! 😉

  26. theUngourmet says:

    Ewwww! Icky cab driver!! This recipe is brilliant…the cous cous is so gorgeous! I love that last shot. 🙂

  27. elra says:

    Pomegranate, blue cheese, I like all of these ingredients Jo. Sounds absolutely scrumptious.

  28. Toni says:

    Savory pancakes… hmm…. note to self: try these. Do you think it would work with brown lentils? Because I have those. I guess I could just wait until I get that cookbook because, yes, I have it coming to me at the local library.

  29. Oh Joanne, your photos are GORGEOUS!!!! Wowsers! 🙂 I’m cracking up at your cab/boyfriend story. Lordy, I had the same sort of thing happen to me in Germany and I was scared stiff! Phew! Thankfully we’re both feisty women and emerged unscathed from our encounters. 🙂

  30. msmeanie says:

    Wait – are you a Queens girl?? I am too! I should have known it. Only people from Queens can be as awesome as us. 😉 Where in Queens I wonder? I bet our folks are neighbors. Great looking salad by the way. And I’m glad cabbie didn’t cause too much harm.

  31. sorry about the cab ride but you had my full attention at blue cheese couscous! yum! happy thursday!

  32. Bob says:

    Should I be insulted that I’ve never been hit on by a cabbie? Course, I’m a dude. That probably has something to do with it. Heh.

    The pancakes look great, I’ve never seen that kind before.

  33. Debbie says:

    I remember NYC cabbies well since I grew up on Long Island. They can be very creepy and sneaky…your pancakes look great! Never have seen any like these and they sound delicious!

  34. Karen says:

    I love those lentil pancakes and I’m not a big pancake fan! It’s the savory that drew me in – I have to try these.

  35. Amy says:

    Well, you know I’ve been having a love affair with Israeli Couscous for a while now…add blue cheese and pomegranate – holy, heck yes! I am all over this one.

    And for the record, I am SO glad that “Trevor” was the lovable coffee cup and not the creepy taxi cab driver.

  36. Stella says:

    Hey Joanne, this is my kind of food! I love the idea of that pancake with the Israeli cous cous and blue cheese. The pomegranate looks beautiful too and I’m sure added some nice sweetness.
    Oh, and, yes, cab drivers should so not hit on female passengers-not cool!

  37. Danielle says:

    Im so not familiar with the whole cab thing…other than they SMELL!! LOL. You poor thing but hey, it was a very amussing story for us readers at least LOL

    And what a beautiful dish! My stomach is getting ready to let out an awfully loud growl

  38. teresa says:

    oh my gosh, i was worried for you! yikes!

    i love that last picture of the seeds, and this looks awesome indeed, especially with the blue cheese!

  39. wow awesome and great color one day they will be a cute guy in the cab with you!

  40. Red lentil pancakes! You are too smart. And too cute with the little arils on your finger there!

    And yes, sadly, the cab drivers are serious when they say they could be your boyfriend. Sadly. Glad you made it out safely!

    Happy Friday!

  41. That creep! Was there a tv in the back? I would of cranked it up. And then comforted myself with lots of this beautiful and vibrant couscous! It reminds me of Christmas. Love the pancakes with it!

  42. Haha I love your story about the cab driver! Creepy situations make for great stories in the end if you can avoid the dying thing. These pancakes look so good! I haven’t tried savory pancakes before but I’ll do anything to eat more pancakes ’round the clock!

  43. Faith says:

    I love your stories, Joanne! And I’m glad you fake-numbered creepy cab guy (a girl has to do what she has to do, right? 😉 ). This meal looks out of this world amazing…I definitely think it conferred super powers. 🙂

  44. Tasha says:

    I’ve so been wanting to try a savory pancake and one with lentils sounds awesome. Espceially with couscous and blue cheese- yum! Sorry about your creepy cabdriver, but your story was hillarious 🙂

  45. Yummy savory pancakes and the couscous looks so colorful with the pomegranates!

  46. MaryMoh says:

    I love that pancake…looks very healthy and delicious, especially with the salad.

  47. sweetlife says:

    Is that who called me early today?? He sounded excited..haha you crazy girl, love the pancakes and the dressing holy batman, I’m sure that cabby would have been toast after that supercharged salad…great recipe


  48. Debinhawaii says:

    These look awesome and I am loving the combination of flavors in that topping–yum!

  49. Nicole, RD says:

    Innocent? Really? Poor guy! No wonder he’s hitting on his patrons 😉 That story was great! Texting yourself is a good distraction in a bind, good thinking!

    The dish looks wonderful, especially that couscous! If I can find some of those ingredients, I’ll be recreating your deliciousness!

  50. Gosh , i thought u were talking about the prev ”nice” cab driver, this is lousy:-(((((((
    But this meal is gorgeous, i love these purple jewels so so so muc too;-)))
    they are absolutely delicious and the recipe u have here totally rocks :-)))
    And i love how beautifully u paired them with the pancakes;-))
    Grat combi!!!
    Am having my first GIVEAWAY ever and am super excited about this post:-))))

  51. My aunt, at the time eighty years-old, was propositioned by a cab driver in Beirut. The story made the family circles, I thought it was funny and flattering, she of course, did not. Well, have you thought of wearing a wedding ring?
    Love your dish; I have never cooked red lentils this way before. Sounds good.

  52. Yosha says:

    Oh wow I love the concept of a red lentil pancake. Actually I haven’t met a red lentil dish I haven’t love…all time fav being Dahl. Will have to try, this weekend, I think it’ll be perfect with some curry!

    Cab ride…yikes! It’s like you are paying someone to harrass you! I hope the tip was low…this is why I love Ottawa, small city…excellent (mostly) public transportation system!

  53. tigerfish says:

    Superfood, superpowers, superwoman making super salad!

  54. daphne says:

    I can’t believe how aweful that cab driver must be not to mention how leery!
    Love the idea of lentil pancakes! Gotta try this one maybe with both bluer cheese n pistachios!

  55. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve never had a cab driver hit on me, but I’m pretty sure if I did I would say I was married.

  56. Too funny. I used to have to take cabs for a time in Florida. Trust me they don’t vary much from one state to another. Maybe creepy is part of the cabbie criteria for hiring.
    Love the couscous, sitting on the fence about the lentil pancakes (not a pancake person though). Your photography is extraordinary. Leave it to Mark Bittman though to come up with those ;D !

  57. Jagruti says:

    Oh dear Jo
    cab driver story…creepy…
    lentil pancakes looks perfect and very healthy too…


  58. knk says:

    nice i never saw this but seems good have to try this once

  59. ruchikacooks says:

    Savory pancakes! Now thats my kinda breakfast.

    Cabbie story is scary… Innocent? Nope

  60. saveur says:

    This looks gorgeous and nutritious!
    I don’t think his name was Innocent, though. 🙂

  61. Gulmohar says:

    lol..There is not a single time that I do not enjoy your stories 😀 Pancakes and couscous salad looks awesome together, esp on your finger tip 😀

  62. katie says:

    I have never had lentils.. You’re making me want to try them though!

  63. Velva says:

    Thanks for the forewarning about NYC cab drivers. I hope your return trip was not fraught with more thoughts of jumping from a moving cab.
    This meal looks fabulous. Red lentil pancakes,blue cheese and the pomegranate is just so amazing. What powerhouse of flavor.

  64. dessert girl says:

    Ha ha, too funny!! Last weekend I was in NYC and the cab driver told us that we should go to the nude beach and some place for swingers where they put the names of women in a bottle and shake it up…ummmm…no. 🙂 The food looks awesome, btw! Love, love, love Israeli couscous!

  65. Pierce says:

    You are so daring…combinations I would have never thought of. Very cool!

  66. Lynn says:

    I’m so sorry about the creepy cab driver. But it did give you a great story. And you told it so well! Hope you never end up having to ride with “innocent” again.

  67. Donna-FFW says:

    Tell them you have a girlfriend and a battery operated toy named Trevor;)
    Missed you!

  68. Cynthia says:

    Wow that is so creepy! Poor you! The lentil pancakes look so good and the pomegranate seeds are absolutely perfect for spring!

  69. ejm says:

    I really should try pomegranate molasses again. Maybe it was the brand we got that made it so loathsome. Alternatively, I could just make the pomegranate salad without the molasses…

    Because this sounds really good. The red lentil pancakes sound amazing.

    (Too bad about the idiot taxi driver. WHAT is it about those guys?!)

  70. I have some giant cous cous so will be giving this a go.

    What is it about taxi drivers? I had a dreadful minicab driver the other day that insisted that the roundabout way was the fastest one for me to get home.

  71. Kerstin says:

    Haha, yes, you always have to answer yes with no hesitation! I love all the layers of flavor in this dish 🙂

  72. Hannah says:

    This salad looks like beautiful multi-colored caviar! I definitely need to get some israeli couscous, asap, and make something similar.

  73. kickpleat says:

    Yikes, scary cab driver aside, that meal looks amazing. Really. Wowzers.

  74. Chris says:

    Why don’t you just turn the tables and say, “Well actually I’m a tranny, does the offer still stand?” That would be hilarious.

    Or, “I don’t have time for a boyfriend, I spend all my time running my pepper spray and taser gun manufacturing company.”

  75. grace says:

    awkward! so trevor is your go-to name, eh? i pick…blake. 🙂
    this dish is beautiful and i’m sure it tastes as awesome as it looks. really elegantly done, joanne!

  76. Loved your post – hilarious 🙂
    The food looks gorgeous too – those lentil pancakes sound fantastic, and I love the idea of the pomegranate & couscous salad.

  77. Yosha says:

    I made this yesterday. I sauteed the oinions carrots added some leeks. Served with a shrimp curry, it was delicious!! Thanks again.

  78. Apu says:

    Beautiful couscous!! Refreshing recipe!!

  79. These are some ridiculously impressive pancakes!

  80. Cristie says:

    Your story about the cab driver is just too real. So glad you remembered the super food, and a fake number. Loved the picture of the couscous, I have to make this meal.

  81. Shirley says:

    That story is scary, but if you flash a finger that looks so good at him; you are in trouble girl.

  82. comfycook says:

    Did you know I am hosting PPN this week? Cooking any pasta for me? It is all right, if you aren’t. After reading all these recipes, I am still wondering how you find the time to do everything.

  83. Jessica B. says:

    I recently discovered your blog and it’s one of my favorites now. I just made these two dishes tonight and I enjoyed them both. I couldn’t find the pomegranate seeds, however, so I just went without. I also subbed goat cheese for the blue cheese. It was a great meal. Thanks!

  84. Joanne says:

    Jessica – Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad you enjoyed the dishes 😛

  85. nicole says:

    Thank you!! (hubby is on slow carb) This recipe for the lentil pancake part was a life saver!! Yeah you!!

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