I have been making this recipe on the reg for the past two years. I especially love this recipe during any season of race training. It makes fantastic leftovers, is an unexpectedly tasty pizza topping, and a great source of protein!
After a long history with veggie burgers, I welcomed the challenge of developing a recipe for flavorful 'meat'balls. I figured it was an attainable goal since veggie burgers are one of my favorite things to eat.
FRENCH LENTILS OR BUST
I've used every type of lentil and without a doubt, french lentils work the best. You could try beluga lentils too, but most other types are too mushy for this application! French lentils retain their shape and have a different flavor profile, presenting a spicy, earthy flavor. In this recipe, they are purposely under cooked so they don't become too mushy and will continue to cook while they bake.
DON'T SKIP THE TOASTED FENNEL + WINE
One of the secrets that makes this recipe so delicious is the toasted fennel seeds. They add a rich sweet depth of flavor with a hint of licorice. I got the idea to add toasted fennel from salami. Salami used to be my favorite pizza topping before I stopped eating meat! I know that lots of cured Italian meats include fennel so I wanted to see what kind of flavor it would add to these meatballs. Spoiler alert: IT IS A MAGNIFICENT ADDITION.
The red wine is also a must for these. I've made them without and they are still delicious, but the acidic quality of the red wine is delicious! If you don't have any wine on hand, try using red wine vinegar. The addition of red pepper flakes and harissa are great for a punch of spice.
Ummm also, did I mention that these make GREAT pizza toppings??? Holy buckets, if for no other reason, make them for your pizza!! In addition to pizza and spaghetti, these flavorful morsels are delicious on top of greens with a drizzle of pesto or a squeeze of lemon plus olive oil.
Make these on a Sunday night so you can bring them for lunch on a Monday in honor of Meatless Monday!!
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Make sure you're following me on Instagram @corrielanderson, post a photo of your beautiful creation, tag me, and use #itsallofit!
Vegan Lentil Mushroom Meatballs
Recipe Author: Corrie Anderson
Recipe Type: Vegan, Vegetarian, Dinner
Serves: 5 - 6
- 1 1/4 heaping cup dried french lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups water or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 onion, chopped + save 1 wedge for the lentils!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup or 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon harissa powder (optional)
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Rinse the french lentils well before cooking. Add water, lentils, bay leaves, and onion wedge to a medium sized pot over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. You want the lentils to be just a tad bit under-cooked so that they don't get mushy! Drain before adding to food processor.
- While the lentils are cooking, toast the fennel. Put the fennel seeds in a skillet and cook until they start to become fragrant and golden in color. Remove pan from heat and pour seeds into food processor. Pulse several times.
- Add rolled oats, parsley, lentils, mushrooms, oregano, red pepper flakes, hemp seeds, and harissa to food processor. Pulse until mixture is well incorporated. If your mixture seems to be too wet, you can try adding more oats.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, chopped onions, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Saute until onions are translucent. Add lentil mushroom mixture to pan with onions and cook until browned. Next add red wine, freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Cook until the wine has been absorbed. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. You can use an ice cream or cookie dough scoop to help form the mixture into meatballs, or you can just grab a bit at at time and use your hands. In the past, I have rolled mine in panko bread crumbs to make them a tiny bit crunchier on the outside. I've also added bread crumbs when the mixture seems a bit moisture heavy.
- Brush with a tiny amount of olive oil before you put the balls into the oven. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until slightly browned. If you're eating these as leftovers, you can put them in the oven or microwave to warm them up. If you want to be really fancy, you can put them in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil, it adds a bit of crunch too!