lentil meatballs

I will always be a meat lover - but I do enjoy the challenge of crafting good meals without any meat. And meatballs have always been one of my favorite meals. There is something so incredibly comforting about meatballs for dinner. They used to be one of my favorite "after work, when I lived in the city" dinners. I only add those caveats because for some reason I haven't made a big ole batch of meaty, salty meatballs since I moved to the burbs.

Last week I saw this recipe for lentil meatballs on Instagram. Jillian Harris was raving about how amazing they were and perhaps how you wouldn't even miss the meat. While I'm not sure that is totally true, if I was a vegetarian this would be a good substitute and a fresh take on leftover lentils. Also - lentils are crazy affordable so let's start using them in lots of places.

The meal comes together very quickly provided you already have the lentils made. I've never been great at cooking grains so just before I mentally prepared myself for cooking lentils, I googled whether I could make them in a rice cooker. Turns out you can - mostly. They weren't the best lentils of my life but for those of us that are especially challenged at grains.... it works just fine. Also, I'll absolutely be rolling all future meatballs in parmesan. It was super easy and cut back on the amount of cheese that I would actually put in a normal recipe.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add olive oil, shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly golden then remove from heat. 
  3. In a food processor, combine the egg, Italian seasonings, parsley, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Then add in the sauteed garlic and shallot as well as the parmesan cheese. You don't need to pulse until it's pureed just get these things combined.
  4. Add your cooked lentils to the food processor and mix until combined. Again, not pureed but just combined. But honestly don't stress about it.
  5. Remove the mixture to a bowl and then add in bread crumbs to get the mixture to the texture you need for rolling the balls. The mixture will be loose and very light but you should be able to get balls formed. I added about 2  tbsps of breadcrumbs but this will vary based on the moisture in your lentils, eggs, etc.
  6. Roll tablespoon sized balls into shape and then coat in parmesan cheese. Arrange on a baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the balls have a gentle brown exterior. Remove meatballs from oven and let cool slightly - they will firm up the longer they are cooled. 
  8. Serve over some form of pasta with a marinara sauce.
Shopping List
olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1 1/2 cups cooked + cooled green lentils
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasonings (dried basil + oregano)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp tomato paste
6 Tbsp parmesan cheese (+ more)
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp bread crumbs 

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