This week is my birthday week! Having a birthday around Christmas is not always fun, but my family works really hard to make it special. Last year, they surprised me with tickets to The Book of Mormon for that night. AND they also gave me a new bike! It was an awesome birthday, but you are probably thinking, “What does that have to do with veggie meatballs?” Well, I’ve been reminiscing about my 30th birthday dinner, which was at The Meatball Shop. That might seem like a crazy choice of restaurant for a vegetarian, but The Meatball Shop has amazing veggie meatballs and vegetable side dishes, so it was a hit with vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Thinking of those veggie balls prompted me to recreate them at home. And, I must pat myself on the back because the end product turned out pretty amazing. With their meaty texture, lentils serve as the base of these “meatballs”, making them guaranteed to satisfy any vegetarian with a hankering for this Italian favorite. Omitting the meat omits the fat, resulting in a healthier alternative to the standard meatball! Top these meatballs with a marinara sauce (recipe to come in a later post), some grated parmesan cheese, a pesto sauce, or just eat them straight out of the oven!
Makes 15-20 meatballs
1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
1/3 cup dry bulgur
2/3 cup water
1 carrot, peeled and cut in big pieces
1 white onion, peeled and cut in big pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chopped or dried parsley
1 teaspoon chopped or dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
- Combine lentils and 2 cups of water in sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes. All the water should be absorbed when the lentils are done.
- In the meantime, add bulgur and 2/3 cup water to small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5-8 minutes until all water is absorbed. Set aside in large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place carrot pieces, onion pieces, and garlic in food processor. Process until they are small pieces. Add blended vegetables to large bowl with bulgur.
- Add Parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, oregano, basil, and salt to bowl with bulgur and vegetables. Once lentils are cooked, add to the same bowl. Mix all ingredients well. It may be fun to use your hands to mix!
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover it with olive oil (either will work).
- Roll lentil mixture into balls (a little bigger than a golf ball) and place on baking sheet, a few inches apart. You may need to cook in two batches if there isn’t enough room on the pan. Drizzle each meatball with olive oil.
- Place balls in the oven, and cook on one side for 7-8 minutes. Then, turn each ball and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Each side should be golden brown with a delicious crust.
- Lentils are the star of this meatball, and they are a protein packed legume. A ¼ cup of dry lentils contains 12g of protein!
- A ¼ cup serving of lentils contains 35% of the daily value of thiamin and 58% of the daily value of folate. Thiamin helps maintain healthy brain function, while folate keeps your red blood cells healthy and happy!
- Lentils are high in fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes heart health.