When I was growing up I always hated lentils. I thought they were bland and heavy and gross. And, to be totally honest, even today if someone tells me they are serving lentils I cringe just a little bit. But since discovering the joys of Dal (Indian-style lentils) and lentil pasta dishes, I have started to come around to being a fan. Here’s what I love about lentils: they are a great, cheap, and easy-to-cook source of protein. There are many different varieties, so you have to be careful you are buying the right kind, but that wide variety also means that there are lots of different things you can do with them, which is fun!
The trick with lentils, in my opinion, is that you have to help them in the flavor department. They offer a great base on which to build flavor with herbs, spices, vinegars, onions, garlic, and/or lemon, but skip that step and you are facing a big bowl of bland.
So if, like me, you are dubious about lentils or if you haven’t cooked much with them but are curious, this recipe may be a great introduction for you because it uses lots of seasonings to bring a punch and depth of flavor to your meal. Plus it is super easy to make, and fun to do with kids (they love forming the balls).
But do they pass the taste test? Yes! My boys love, I mean really, really love meatballs. Every week when I ask them what they would like to add to the meal plan, spaghetti and meatballs is always a request. And while I am happy to make them from time to time, I personally get a bit sick of them and also prefer to cook with less meat. When I introduced these I was a bit nervous about how they would react. I was very clear that they were not meatballs, I didn’t want anyone taking a bite and then being shocked (never a good set up for introducing a new food to kids or, honestly, grownups), and to my great pleasure they were an immediate hit. All three of my guys loved them and so did I! So give these a shot, they’d be great with a marinara or pesto sauce on pasta. Or you could even make “meat”-ball sandwiches with marinara and melted cheese–YUM!
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 spring onions or 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cup green lentils, cooked
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 egg
- ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ Tablespoon dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons red or white wine vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- If you have not yet cooked your lentils, do that first.
- Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease it.
- Mince your spring onion/shallot and garlic. In a small skillet heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat until shimmering. Add spring onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Take off the heat.
- Put all of the ingredients, including the sautéed onion and garlic, into the food processor and pulse until the ingredients come together, but are not yet a paste (you want some texture).
- Form the dough into small balls, a little smaller than a golf ball. Place on the baking sheet. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until they have a crust on the outside.