Recipe courtesy of

Serves 6-10


For the Quick Red Pepper Paste

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the lentil balls

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade Quick Red Pepper Paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, green parts only (from 1 to 2 scallions)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (from 1 bunch)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the pomegranate sauce

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, warmed
  • 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade Quick Red Pepper Paste

For assembling the lettuce cups

  • 2 small heads butter lettuce, separated into leaves


To make the Quick Red Pepper Paste

In a small food processor, blend the red peppers with the smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and olive oil until it forms a thin paste or sauce. Leftover paste may be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 1 week.

To make the lentil balls

In a 2-quart or larger saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the red onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add 1/4 cup of the red pepper paste, the cumin and paprika, and sauté for 30 seconds.

Stir in the red lentils and pour in 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils have softened. Stir in the bulgur wheat. Remove from the heat and cover the pan. Let the lentils and bulgur rest for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and soft.

Stir in an additional 1/4 cup red pepper paste, as well as the scallions, cilantro, lemon juice and a generous quantity of black pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside to cool.

To make the pomegranate sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together the warmed pomegranate molasses and red pepper paste until well combined. Taste and add more red pepper paste or salt and pepper if desired.

To assemble the lettuce cups

When the lentil mixture has cooled, form it into walnut-sized balls or stubby cigar shapes, or don’t shape the lentil mixture if you’d rather not. Place one or two lentil balls or a dollop of lentil mixture in the center of a lettuce leaf, drizzle with sauce, and roll up the lettuce or pinch it closed like a taco to eat.