What are vegan lentil meatballs?
Vegan Lentil Meatballs are not just a culinary delight but a celebration of plant-based goodness. Originating from the heartiness of green lentils, this dish carries a rich history of being a flavorful, meat-free alternative cherished across various cultures. As we embark on this culinary journey, let’s explore the health benefits that make this recipe a deliciously nutritious choice for a meat-free main meal.
Why are vegan lentil meatballs so healthy?
These Vegan Lentil Meatballs are a powerhouse of nutrients. Green lentils, the star of the dish, provide an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential minerals. Paired with nutrient-packed mushrooms, onions, and oats, this recipe not only satisfies the taste buds but also supports overall well-being. The combination of ingredients offers a heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering, and digestion-promoting meal.
Do you have a diet restriction?
This vegan lentil meatball recipe is:
- Dairy Free
- Nut Free
- Low Fat
- Low GI
- Syn Free
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
This recipe of course calls for lentils. I have made this recipe with both red and green lentils but once again i find red lentils far too mushy for this recipe so green lentils it is! My local supermarket only stores pre cooked green lentils which is very handy for recipes like these however if you acquire dried lentils, cook them per package instructions. I do highly recommend you cook lentils in vegetable stock rather than plain water. If you’re using cooked lentils like me, add in a spoonful of vegetable seasoning if you have it to hand. The other ingredients we need to precook are the diced onions, mushrooms and garlic. Finely dice these, sauté the onion and the mushrooms for around 5 minutes before adding the garlic and other dry seasonings for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Leave to cool.
Step 2: Forming the meatballs
In a food processor, create the lentil meatball mixture by combining the cooked green lentils, sautéed onions and aromatics, rolled oats, tomato paste, dried oregano, dried basil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Gently pulse the mixture, creating a more mixed effect rather than a puree, as an overly smooth consistency makes moulding them into balls challenging. The mixture will be sticky, so utilize floured hands to shape it into meatballs, ensuring a smoother and more manageable process that results in well-formed, cohesive meatballs. This will result in your meatballs looking slightly floury on the outside but ive found this is actually really useful for helping the marinara sauce stick to the meatballs.
Step 3: Bake and serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°F). Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet, I only used foil because I ran out of paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs attain a golden-brown hue and are cooked through, but still soft inside, offering a delightful blend of textures. I would recommend turning these vegan meatballs regularly whilst cooking to ensure they keep their round shape or they tend to go very flat on the side that they are baking on. Once cooked, add to your favourite marinara sauce and serve with pasta.
Experiment with diverse flavor profiles by incorporating these variations:
- Mediterranean Delight: Add crumbled feta and chopped olives for a tangy Mediterranean twist.
- Spicy Fusion: Infuse a spicy kick by including cayenne pepper and ground coriander for an adventurous flavor experience.
- Herbaceous Wonder: Introduce fresh herbs such as chopped parsley or cilantro into the mixture for an extra burst of freshness.
Can I use a different type of lentil? Its not impossible, but not recommended While green lentils provide a robust texture, red lentils can be substituted for a softer consistency, due to the extra water red lentils retail, you may need to add more oats to make them moldable
Is it gluten-free? Technically, yes. This recipe is free from gluten flours, making it fine for most people with intolerances however oats are often known for cross contamination and if you have a particularly bad intolerance or coeliac disease you may want to substitute the oats for a gluten free flour.
Can I freeze them? Indeed! After baking, allow the meatballs to cool completely before freezing them in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a storage container for convenient use.