One of my favorite things to make before becoming a vegetarian was turkey meatballs. Sadly, now that I no longer eat meat, I haven’t had a meatball in something like five years. It’s crazy to think how much my diet has changed over the years. I no longer have a taste for meat. In fact, the smell of cooked meat often turns my stomach. But I still like meatballs- at least the idea of them. So, when I found a recipe for veggie meatballs (that seemed somehow different from veggie burgers), I had to give it a whirl. So glad I did.
You can serve these meatballs in a variety of ways, over pasta or rice, or in a sandwich. You could also serve them on their own with a dipping sauce. This lemony pesto has a ton of flavor, but you could stick with a traditional spicy marinara. I caution you that these meatballs are not a substitute for the “real thing” and if you take your first bite with that mindset, you will be sorely disappointed. This is simply another delicious vegetarian recipe to add to your repertoire.
Ingredients: (Makes about 2 dozen meatballs)
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1.5 cups cooked French lentils
3/4 cup ricotta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
a handful of finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper (a dash of each)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
For the Sauce:
1 bunch basil, rough chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan
splash of water to thin
Directions: In a food processor, blend the lentils until they become mushy. Put them in a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.
For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice, parmesan, and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the lentil mixture into 1 inch balls. If the mixture is too wet and falls apart, stir in a bit more breadcrumbs. Roll the mix into balls and line them up on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
Serve over a bed of your favorite noodles.
Drizzle with the lemony basil pesto.
Garnish with parsley and a bit more parmesan. Dig in.
The lentil meatballs make easy leftovers and are delicious hot or cold.
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