Simple Lentil Meatballs
File this under 'outside my eating zone' recipes! lol! Lentils were not a food that I often if ever had much of before embarking on my plant-based journey. The most I have ever ventured with lentils was maybe lentil soup and even then I sometimes was not a big fan. However, I have learned that they can be a staple ingredient for vegetarians and vegans as they boost fiber, protein, VitaminB, and iron. Which can be hard to come by if you are on a plant-based diet.
During my meat eating days we often had meatballs, I mean I did grow up Italian with Sundays catered around meatballs and pasta. Yum!! I often made my grandma's meatball recipe with sauce on Sundays and as a family, we always opted for the meatball appetizer at any restaurant we go to. We prided ourselves on being meatball concourses! While I may no longer take part in this activity when we go out my family has carried on the tradition. And that is where this recipe inspiration came from.
I missed my meatballs - not so much the meat part just being a part of the meatball events. I have made eggplant meatballs as well and those are one of my favorites but after learning about the dietary benefits of lentils I wanted to give it a go.
Again, minimal ingredients as you know that is my go to. I am busy working mom and wife so the less the ingredient list the better for me! All that is included are cooked lentils, egg, garlic & shallot, tomato paste and Italian seasonings.
Yes, these are fragile so be patient and gentle when forming them into these little 'meatballs'. You could attempt to pan fry them to give them a crispy outer coating but like I said they are fragile and fall apart easily so I decided just to bake them in the oven.
While they were cooking I sauteed the frozen carrot noodles that I often have on hand from Trader Joe's (grab them when you see them as they are so versatile and are literally just carrots!) Added in some good quality tomato sauce and once the lentil meatballs were done I topped them over the carrot zoodles with a fresh sprinkle of parsley and voila....dinner is served!
Could be saved for leftovers - maybe even meal prep but not for more than a day or 2 in my opinion. Get creative and add them over zucchini zoodles or spaghetti (maybe gluten-free or whole wheat?!)
Let me know if you decide to cook outside your comfort zone with these simple lentil meatballs!!
1.5 cups cooked & cooled lentils
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 shallot, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Dried Italian seasonings (parsley, basil, oregano)
Fresh parsley (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Cook lentils according to package directions & preheat oven to 375.
2. Add cooked and cooled lentils to a food processor, egg, garlic & shallot, (option to sautee garlic & shallot in 1 tbs olive oil before adding to mix) Italian seasonings and a sprinkle of S&P.
3. Blend well together until combined - should still have some lentil lumps - not a full puree.
4. Use a tablespoon to scoop out round like sizes and carefully mold with fingers. If too dry add a smidge of olive oil. Remember - these are fragile so be patient.
5. Arrange on a well-oiled baking sheet (I like to put on a slip mat for easy clean up)
6. Bake for 10 minutes - check and gently flip. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.
7. Let them cool completely to firm up more.
8. Serve over carrot zoodles or your favorite pasta-like dish.