As a child, I loved the traditional meatballs, piled high on spaghetti and covered with cheese. Once I became vegetarian many moons ago, like many foods they were condemned to the B.V (before vegetarianism) food repertoire. Up until three weeks ago, it had never occurred to me to try to make a version. It was one of those food memories left in the past.
Low and behold out shopping I came upon a gluten-free and vegan version, and that fuzzy memory came flooding back, I was so excited. Then I tasted it and I was so disappointed by their rubbery texture. No amount of vegan parmesan cheese or roasted tomato pesto could disguise these less than perfect spheres.
Getting used to cooking, and making vegan food versions with lentils, I got cracking. Combining all the Mediterranean flavours that I wanted to use. These are a pretty good replacement. Crusty on the outside and gloriously soft on the inside. Mind you I did go through a lot of green lentils in the practice. For myself perfect with spaghetti and pesto or warm and in a rolled in a flatbread with roasted peppers and hummus.
Prep time 15 Minutes Cooking time 20 Minutes
Makes 12 Meatballs Freeze 1 month Refrigerate 4 days
- 1 tin green lentils drained and washed
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 shallots
- 1.5 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp oregano
- 5 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp plain flour or dried breadcrumbs
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- salt and pepper
- small bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 50g pinenuts or walnuts
- 1 flaxseed egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 Tbsp of water)
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a tray with baking parchment.
Once the pan is hot add 1 Tbsp olive oil, crushed garlic and shallot then saute for 2-3 minutes, once done remove from the heat.
Mix the flaxseed egg and place into the food processor, leave to gel for a few minutes.
Next add the lentils, 1 tsp olive oil, shallot mix, vegan parmesan, tomato paste, herbs, seasoning, flat leaf parsley, walnuts, sundried tomatoes and flour. Process until well combined but with texture still remaining.
Taste, this is the time to adjust both the taste and texture. Add more seasoning or more parmesan cheese if needed. What you are aiming for is a meatball that molds well, if the mixture is too dry then add a little more oil or water, too wet then add another Tbsp of flour or breadcrumbs.
Wrap the mixture into clingfilm and place it in the fridge for an hour as this makes it easier to roll.
When ready unwrap and take a tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball, repeat with the remaining mixture. It does roll well but if you are finding them too fragile dampen your hands, this does help.
Heat the frying pan again on medium heat and add another Tbsp of olive oil. Add some meatballs to the oil, do not overcrowd the pan. Brown lightly on all sides, I find using two wooden spoons or tablespoons the best way to move them around the pan.
Transfer the browned ones onto the baking sheet. Repeat the process until they are all done, using the rest of the oil as needed,
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and cook for 10- 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes making sure they are not overcooked. While they are cooking prepare the rest of the menu depending on what they are being served with. They are best left to cool slightly before you use them as this makes them less delicate.
Gorgeous with Marinara sauce, pasta, and grated parmesan. Pesto pasta with shredded basil or for a change they are delicious served in warm pitta bread or wraps with added filling. Whichever ever way you choose, I hope you enjoy them