Lentil Veggie Balls

These hearty and flavorful vegetarian meatballs are made with lentils, sauteed vegetables. Serve over pasta, or over sauteed greens with pesto. 

Veggie Balls

Makes: 20-26 balls

Adapted from The Meatball Shop, a must eat when you're in NYC. As you may have guessed, they specialize in meatballs, but the owner says this veggie ball is his favorite. I served these over spinach sauteed with onion and garlic and a basic basil pesto. You could also make a quick spicy tomato sauce or a vegetarian mushroom gravy, which is what I'm planning on doing the next time I make this dish. And there will be a next time.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lentils, any type you like

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils and 2 quarts of water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes until tender. Make sure you don't cook them to mush. Drain and cool.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a medium skillet. Saute onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt on medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes, until all the liquid from the mushrooms is reabsorbed.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature, or place in the freezer if you're short on time. Once cool, add the lentils. Add the eggs, parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, walnuts and pepper and mix by hand until thoroughly combined.
  4. The recipe suggests cooling the mixture in the refrigerator for 25 minutes - I skipped this step and it turned out fine.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a large rimmed baking sheet. Form the lentil-vegetable mixture into 1 1/2-2 inch balls. Place on the baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.
  6. Roast for 35 minutes until firm, flipping halfway.