I’ve been craving meatballs for awhile, but haven’t gotten around to making them. Instead of making regular meatballs, I wanted to give a vegetarian version a try. Turns out my version was vegan, which is even better! After checking out a few different recipes on VegWeb for inspiration, I decided on lentil styled “meat”balls. A lot of recipes used faux meat products, and while I’m not against them, I wanted to try something just with beans, grains, etc. I’ve come to learn that lentils are a fabulous substitute.
While I don’t think these are exactly like meatballs, I think they’re awesome as what they are – Italian lentil balls (yes, I just made that up). The spices make them smell just like meatballs, and they have a crumbly texture, similar to meatballs. This was definitely one of my more successful meat replacement meals, as they actually stayed in the balls I formed, and didn’t crumble upon contact with the skillet, like I’ve experienced with some of my bean burgers.
They are definitely on the drier side of things, but if you mix them into your sauce/gravy, you won’t be able to tell the difference. Or, departing completely from the intended purpose of them for my dinner, you can use them in a pita almost like a falafel. And now I’m thinking about a meatball hero. These would be great on some crusty Italian bread with marinara and cheese. So many good for you possibilities!
– makes 10-20 meatballs, depending on size-
2 cups uncooked lentils
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 Tbsp red pepper flakes (or less depending on your spice preference)
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for frying
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Bring 4 cups of water to boil with lentils. Reduce to a simmer and cook until all water is absorbed (about 20 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, combine oats, corn meal, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, oregano, and salt & pepper in a medium bowl.
4. Once lentils are cooked, allow them to cool (I put them in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes). Then mash using a fork or potato masher until a paste forms. Add the lentils to the dry mixture. Form into balls.
5. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and lightly fry about 5 minutes, adding more oil when needed.
6. Place lentil balls on a greased baking sheet, and bake for about 10-15 minutes.