Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lentil Vegetable Meatballs

I made these last week and served them with ketchup and seasoned oven fries.


2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray or oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (or gf bread crumbs or corn flake crumbs)
2 tbs. ground flax seed
3 Tbs. gf Vegan Worcestershire sauce OR2 Tbs. soy sauce plus 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. each paprika, garlic powder, Italian seasoning
2 Tbs. chickpea flour plus 2 Tbs. water


Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the lentils and a pinch of salt and return to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Let cool and move the lentils to a large mixing bowl. Mash them with a fork, potato masher or your hands until they are completely mashed.

Heat a large skillet and add the oil or cooking spray. Sauté the onions for about 4 minutes until translucent.  I used yellow onion since I didn't have a red onion on hand.  Add the zucchini, carrot, celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes until the veggies are tender.

Add the hot veggies to the lentils in the bowl. The heat will help soften the lentils. Add the parsley, bread crumbs, flax seed, Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce and vinegar), and spices.  I didn't want to make bread crumbs, so I crushed up some crackers I had laying around (Triscuit to be exact).  In a separate little bowl or cup, put 2 Tbs. of chickpea flour. Add 2 Tbs. of water and mix into a loose paste. This will act as a binder. Add the flour and water mixture to the bowl.  I think the next time I make this recipe I will use an egg instead of the flax seed to help bind everything together better.

Mix everything well. Hands work best. (If using your hands, make sure to let the mixture cool a little bit before diving your hands into the bowl ... not that I'm speaking from experience or anything ...) If the mixture seems too loose, add more bread crumbs. If it feels too dry and tight, add water or non-dairy milk.

Heat the large skillet again with a tablespoon of oil. While it’s heating, form the lentil mixture into little balls. Wet your hands, scoop up about 2 Tbs. worth of the mixture (more or less depending what size you like your balls) and roll between your open hands until it is shaped like a ball. Let them rest for awhile (you can even refrigerate them) so they will hold their shape better.

Put the balls into the skillet and fry on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Turn them carefully with tongs or a thin spatula so that they brown on all sides. Cook them long enough to be sure they get cooked all the way through (that's a great excuse to steal one and taste it :) Remove from the pan and serve however you choose.

I didn't want to stand over the stove and spend a ton of time frying the meatballs, so I just put them on a greased baking sheet and popped them into the oven.  I cooked them for 40 mins total at 350 degrees and flipped them over about 20 mins into their baking.  If at the end of 40 mins they don't look browned enough to your liking, just keep cooking them in 10 min intervals until you reach your desired crispiness.

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