Lentil “Meatballs” with Lemon Pesto
Here’s another wonderful “mommy” meal that I made this past week. It’s also a great “meatless Monday” meal. I saw this recipe a few weeks back on Sprouted Kitchen and I have been dying to make it for some time. I loved my chickpeas burgers so much that I wanted to try another meatless dish that is usually made with meat. When you hear the word meatball you think of meat, right? Well, these are lentil meatballs so there is no meat in them. Maybe lentil balls would be a more fitting name for these. It just sounds weird, so I think I will keep the name meatballs.
I loved these lentil meatballs and I wasn’t even missing the meat. They were flavorful and dense like meatballs and they really satisfied my craving for a meatless meatball. Combine them with the lemon pesto and you have yourself a wonderful & healthy vegetarian lunch or dinner. I promise you, you will not miss the meatballs here.
This dish was not to popular with my kids, but I wasn’t expecting it to be either. I was really just creating this recipe for myself. My kids liked the pesto, but did not care to much for the meatballs. I ate the meatballs and fed them some quinoa pasta with the pesto sauce. I believe in cooking one meal for the family so I accomplished my goal here.
Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
makes about 13 medium sized meatballs
- 2 cups cooked black lentils – 1 cup dry lentils equals 2 cup cooked
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup freslhy grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed – I used my coffee grinder here
- 2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh parsley
- Heafty pinch of dried or fresh thyme – I used fresh thyme here
- 1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably) – I used whole wheat panko breadcrumbs from Ians
Here are the ingredients you will need to make the meatballs.
You will need 1 cup of dry lentils to equal 2 cooked cups of lentils here.
Once you measure out your lentils give them a rinse.
Cook up your lentils according the directions on the package. When your lentils are finished cooking, drain them and set them aside to cool a bit.
Once your lentils have cooled down for a bit, measure out 2 cups and put them in a food processor.
Pulverize the lentils into mush and then put them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well.
Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.
While the lentil mix is resting, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and proceed to make up your lemon pesto (see recipe below).
After 20 minutes or so, check the lentil mix by rolling a round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well. If it seems pretty wet and it’s falling apart, stir in another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs until the ball stays together.
My mix was perfect the way it was. I think using the Panko breadcrumbs made a difference as they are hearty breadcrumbs.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into “meatballs sized” balls and line them up on a baking sheet.
Note: they don’t need lots of space between them as they won’t spread.
If you want them to be crusty, then brush the meatballs with olive oil. I wanted them to be brown and crusty so I brushed the entire meatball with olive oil.
Here is a photo of the meatballs after they have been brushed in olive oil. See how nice and shiny they are!
Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Make sure you turn the meatballs halfway through the baking time. Remove and cool slightly.
These lentil meatballs are wonderful on their own with the below lemon pesto or you can pair them up with your favorite pasta, like quinoa to make a healthy and vegetarian spaghetti and meatballs.
Lemon pesto sauce
Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
Note: Lentil meatballs can be a bit on the dryer side so you will want to moisten them up with this pesto.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 2-4 tablespoons water to thin sauce
Prep all of your ingredients. Wash and dry your basil leaves, zest and juice your lemon, peel your garlic, measure out your pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
Put the garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice 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 2 tablespoons of water to thin as desired. I used 2 tablespoons, as I like my pesto be a bit thinner. This is optional of course. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.
Note: Sometimes my pesto comes out green as shown in the picture above, and sometimes it comes out a bit more yellow-green. It really depends on how big the meyer lemons are. Don’t fret on the color, as it tastes amazing no matter what the color is. If you feel you want more green, then just add some more basil to taste and then process again.
My favorite way to enjoy these is topped with lots of the pesto and thrown on some quinoa spaghetti.
Have you ever tried a meatless meatball?
If so, did you like it?