Vegetarian Meatballs

Tiny lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. Lentils are the base of these meatballs and provide an excellent amount of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, protein, and fiber with virtually no fat. I used brown lentils in this recipe but have also subbed red and black lentils with great results I have also put in a substitution of eggplant in lieu of the lentils if you don’t feel as though you are ready to handle beans yet. You can also try half lentils and half roasted eggplant as state below. 

The quinoa is a grain-like seed with an impressive complete protein content. Quinoa is also, a good source of dietary fiber and high in magnesium and iron. This gluten-free grain has a crunchy, nutty flavor that is easy to digest. These can be made with a quick sauce (below), broken up into sauce like a vegan Bolognese, on top of a salad, a great addition to Salad Buddha Bowls, the filling of a wrap with avocado, or a snack. Quick tahini sauce as a condiment is also a delicious way to enjoy these meatballs (see below). The possibilities are endless!

The Meatballs: Makes between 20-24 meatballs and leftovers can be frozen.

Flax eggs (your binder - 6 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 1/2 Cup of water)

2 C cooked lentils or well rinsed canned lentils (or sub 2 cups of roasted and chopped eggplant for the lentils) or use 1 Cup of each and enjoy the flavors of both in this recipe

3/4 C sautéed & chopped fresh spinach 5oz is a typical fresh bag or clamshell (If you are using frozen chopped spinach, thaw a 16 oz. bag completely, sauté to release water and squeeze out excess water with a paper towel after cooled down. Use what you need for the recipe and if there is leftover, freeze and save for a quick addition to a soup or Buddha-type bowl)

1 C shredded or grated fresh zucchini (I used a box grater)

2 Tablespoon tomato paste (if you have sun-dried tomato condiment from Maintenance, this is a delicious way to add flavor and texture as well. Sub a tablespoon if you have the condiment)

1 C cooked quinoa

Fresh herbs (chopped basil, oregano) or dried blends such as the chimichurri blend, a heaping tablespoon of a basil pesto or the mixed herb pesto you have from RESET.

1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb blend

1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Pan spray

Quick Tomato Sauce (optional)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 diced shallot

1-28oz. canned petit-diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon capers

1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano and basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with a light coating of olive oil or coconut oil. 

In a large bowl, make your flax egg and let sit for three minutes. Combine lentils (or eggplant) through salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients well. 

Take half of the combined mixture and process on medium speed in a food processor for 2 minutes, add back to the large bowl mixture and mix well. Using hands, form meatballs about 2” in diameter. Place meatballs on cookie about 2 inches apart.  In you cannot form meatballs without them falling apart, you may need a little more water to bring it all together. 

Place in oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn. Cook additional 20 minutes. Meatballs should be browned and have a crunchy outside coating.

*Quick Sauce:

Sauce olive oil and shallots on medium heat and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add in tomatoes through dried herbs. Bring to simmer and cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

*If you make the quick sauce, try spiralized zucchini as a mock pasta or combine cooked buckwheat and spiralized zucchini and serve with the meatballs and your quick sauce. 

Whipped Tahini Sauce:

In a smaller blender cup (or use a whisk) add ½ cup of tahini, ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of cumin. Add ¼ cup of hot water and blend. You may need to add a tablespoon more at a time until you achieve a smooth creamy consistency. 

Other delicious variations would include adding fresh herbs such as dill, cilantro, parsley, or basil but I would recommend the blender to incorporate an even blend of fresh herbs.

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