Lentil & Mushroom “Meat”balls

Lentil & Mushroom “Meat”balls

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Who says a vegan can’t have homemade spaghetti and meatballs? These no-meat balls are definitely being added to my list of staple dishes because they were so delicious, but also because my husband said he hoped they would be making an appearance often.  That’s the kind of feedback I love to hear.

They were also super easy to make, which is definitely my style. I can’t wait to experiment more with different seasoning options. I’m also picturing a delicious “meat”ball sub in my near future.

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Just looking at the closeup shot, I personally can’t tell them apart from a typical meatball. Sure, it’s been many years since I’ve eaten a real meatball, but I still remember what they  look like. Of course, the taste of my “meat”balls isn’t the same, but I think they are actually better. They are vegan, gluten-free, oil-free and completely delicious.

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I served my “meat”balls very simply over Banza chickpea pasta with marinara sauce and some oregano and pepper to top it off. If you give these a try, let me know how they go. I am definitely hooked! Just remember to make them somewhat small, about the size of a golf ball, per the notes below. I made a couple of them larger and the texture wasn’t as good on the large ones.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz / 1 standard package of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
  • 1 cup cooked brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup of gluten-free bread crumbs (can substitute rolled oats)
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil if you prefer), OR a 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable broth for sauteing if you prefer an oil-free option
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Tamari
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (feel free to add more or use dried)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat your oil or vegetable broth in a pan over medium heat, and add the onions. Saute for two minutes then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until onions are translucent and start to caramelize a bit. Take care not to burn the garlic, and if you are using vegetable broth instead of oil, feel free to add more as needed.
  2. Add mushrooms and Tamari to the pan with the onions and cook everything together for about 5-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are softened.
  3. Turn off heat and transfer the contents of the pan to a large bowl to cool down for a few minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200 °C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  5. In a food processor, add in the lentils, spices, flax egg, bread crumbs (or oats) and mushroom/onion mix once it has cooled a bit. Blend all ingredients together until you reach your desired consistency. I liked mine to be mostly smooth but still with some texture.
  6. Spoon out the mixture and roll them into little balls, placing them on the parchment. I would recommend creating about 15 little balls that are about the size of a golf ball. If you make fewer balls, they will likely be a bit too large and will lose some of their shape and be too soft in the middle. These definitely work out nicely when they are a tad smaller.
  7. Place the balls in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, turning once throughout.
  8. Remove from oven and toss them on your pasta, or make yourself a delicious “meat”ball sub! I made a simple dish using Banza spaghetti and marinara sauce.
  9. Enjoy!

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