Vegetarian "meat"balls

Happy 2014 to you!  Looking back on 2013, I'm so thankful for God's direction and peace in my life.  I look forward to His wisdom, direction, and peace in this upcoming year.  I am also thankful for you, my reader.  I truly enjoy cooking and writing for you!  I have come to find out that not only do I have readers in Missouri and Illinois, but I have a few international readers as well!  Hello India, Italy, and Finland.  How exciting and amazing; reached places that I didn't even imagine.  

Today's recipe is Vegetarian Meatballs.  First of all, let me apologize for my lack of photos.  Here's the reason why.  My husband and I cooked Christmas lunch for my family; three-meat meatballs, vegetarian meatballs, minestrone soup, and salad.  Since our home is so small, we packed up everything we made and took it to my mom's large house, where Christmas was held.  So, once we got there, I got side tracked and forgot to take pictures of the final product.  Sorry!

 I prepared the Vegetarian Meatballs for my niece, since she is a vegetarian I wanted her to have a similar Christmas meal as everyone else.  This was the first time I made veggie meatballs; surprisingly they turned out very well.  By outward observation, most people couldn't tell the difference between the vegetarian "meat"ball and the meatball.  By taste, the vegetarian "meat"ball had a textural quality like the meatball.  No, it did not taste like meat, but it was extremely flavorful and hearty, but not dense.

This recipe is from The Meatball Shop, which is a restaurant in Manhattan that only serves meatballs.  I was banking on they would have a great recipe since they are famous for meatballs, thankfully it paid off.  

I made a small tweak to the original recipe; I quickly pulsed my cooked vegetables in the food processor to have a finer texture and produce a comparable mouth feel to a meatball.  I also noticed that the vegetables expel a lot of water during the cooking process, so I used a cheesecloth to drain off some liquid prior to placing in the food processor.   

I hope you try Vegetarian Meatball this year.  Here's to trying new foods and gladness!


CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe


Ingredients for Vegetarian "Meat"balls

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1/4 cup* (I only used 2-3 Tbsp to sauté) plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated rennet-free Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar (Not in original recipe, I added for taste)

Directions for Vegetarian "Meat"balls

1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.

2. Add 1/4 cup * of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Drain cooked veggie if needed.  When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture   and lightly pulse in food processor.  Transfer to a large bowl.  

3. Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetables and lentils and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

5. Roll the mixture into round golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. **I lightly coated the outside of the balls with breadcrumbs for a crisper texture when baking.  Place the balls in the prepared glass baking dish, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

6. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

Yield: About 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs.

Serving suggestion: Serve on a hoagie roll with marinara sauce, top with mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.