Vegetarian Meatballs

June 27, 2014 | By | Reply More

 

vegetarian meatballsVegetarian meatballs are simply awesome! For those of you rolling your eyes, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I was a vegetarian for many years, but unlike my vegetarian friends, I never liked the meatless versions of so many things that are supposed to be…meaty. I always felt like these “products” were making a sorry attempt at tasting like meat. I like vegetarian foods as an entirely different category of food – one that shines on its own without feeling the need to scream, “Wow! This tastes just like chicken (or beef).”

Lentils are a vegetarian staple and they take on different flavors more readily than meat. Once you have a basic recipe, like this one adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte, you can get creative with the seasonings if you want to change things up. This recipe has an Italian flair with the fennel seeds and ricotta cheese.

The original recipe serves 4, but I always make a double batch. One of the greatest things about these vegetarian meatballs is that they freeze beautifully. I cook them on baking sheets and allow the extra to cool while we’re eating dinner. Then, I put the entire baking sheet with the meatballs on it right into the freezer overnight. The next day, I portion them in freezer bags and stow away to eat on a night when I don’t have the time or inclination to cook. Their “freezability” makes them perfect for all you single cooks out there too. I also think leftovers would be great served over a bed of mixed greens and crisp vegetables for a working lunch at your desk. Your office mates will swoon!

Vegetarian Meatballs

Ingredients (Serves 4) 

1 cup lentils

2 cups water

2 cloves of garlic

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup bread crumbs (I use panko)

Mr. President likes them served with a zesty marinara. I prefer them served with a drizzle of herby pesto over top.

Step one: 

1 cup lentils

2 cups water

2 cloves of garlic

Combine the lentils and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Add additional water as necessary if lentils look dry and are not yet cooked through. Drain the lentils and cool for a few minutes. Transfer lentils and garlic cloves to a food processor and and pulse until you have a chunky puree.

Step two: 

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Transfer the pureed lentils to a large mixing bowl and add all other ingredients. Stir to thoroughly combine. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes.  Line a rimmed baking sheet (or two if you’ve double the recipe) with parchment.

Step three: 

Check the mixture by rolling a small amount together with your hands. If it seems much too wet to hold together, add a small amount of bread crumbs. However, don’t overdo it – you want the mixture to be very soft so you get tender vegetarian meatballs that aren’t too dry. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and arrange them on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are browned.

Serve with the sauce of your choice and enjoy!

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Category: Food, General, Main Dishes, Recipes

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