The other day I came across the recipe for vegetarian meatballs from the Meatball Shop in Manhattan. Vegetarian is nice, vegan is better. So, I added my own tweaks and twists to the meatball recipe and made it vegan. And still very tasty.
Preparation of lentils:
- 1/2 cup beluga/French lentils
- 1/4 cup red lentils
- 1/4 cup chickpeas
- 1 1/2 quarts water
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves
Wash and rinse the lentils and chickpeas, and place in a pot with the water, the bay leaf and garlic. Bring to a boll, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours on low (simmer only for 30 min if you soaked the lentils and chickpeas for 12h). There is likely little water left, but if there is then drain it. It should make about 2 1/2 cups of cooked lentils.
Lentil walnut porcini meatballs:
- 2 cups cooked beluga and red lentils and chickpeas
- 1 ts olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, microplaned
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 TB tomato paste
- 1 TB red pepper spread (avjar, or Trader Joes red pepper paste)
- 1 oz dried shitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, drained and chopped
- 1 oz dried porcini mushroom, reconstituted in hot water, drained and chopped
- 2 TB BBQ sauce
- 4 TB ground flax seed, 1/4 cup of water (mix to make 2 flax eggs)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 3 TB finely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with some olive oil so that the meatballs won’t stick. Set aside.
Prepare the flax eggs by combining the ground flax seeds with hot water, and set aside. The mix will gel.
Add the olive oil to a frying pan and sauté the onions, chopped carrots, minced garlic, thyme and reconstituted mushrooms over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 min. Add the tomato paste and red pepper paste and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed well and the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and let cool in the food processor for about 5 min.
Add about 75% of the cooked, and slightly cooled lentils/chickpeas to the vegetables in the food processor, and chop coarsely until all the ingredients are well combined. (It will be quite mushy, that makes the lentil balls even more sticky and hold together). Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Add the flax egg, regular bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, chopped walnuts, BBQ sauce and the salt to the pureed mix as well as the non-pureed cooked lentil mix. Mix with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated. Let sit for about 10 min (for the bread crumbs to soak up the liquid and bind the meatballs).
Use a small ice cream scoop and scoop out ping pong ball sized meatballs. Place the lentil balls in the prepared baking sheet, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.
Roast at 400F 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.