These vegetarian lentil meatballs are amazing and you can serve them with just about anything! I will also show how to make these “meatballs” vegan and gluten free! Hope you enjoy.
Perhaps you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, or maybe you do meat-free Mondays. Whatever the case, I guarantee that this meatball recipe will suit your needs.
Plus, lentils are a much cheaper alternative to meat, so even if you’re a meat-eater, a meatless option like this can still be beneficial.
Keys to a good lentil meatball
Drain and rinse your lentils – So strain the lentils from the tin into a sieve and then give them a good rinse under running water.
This is important because you don’t want that liquid in the tin to be apart of the mixture.
Don’t completely blend the lentil mixture – I like to blend the mixture until it’s combined, bit still a bit course, rather than making it completely smooth.
I find that it’s much easier to mould the mixture into balls when it’s slightly coarse. And although this won’t affect the flavour of the final result, the lentil balls will have more texture, which makes them more pleasant to eat.
Have a good binder – The ingredient that binds everything together and stabilises the mixture so that the balls don’t full apart. In this recipe, that binder is an egg.
However, I will also show you how to use chai seeds to make a fantastic vegan binder in this post.
What to serve these meatballs with
These meatballs work with just about anything! Here are some suggestions.
- Pasta, you can just serve the meatballs and tomato sauce with any cooked pasta, or you could pair this recipe with this Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe.
- Zoodles (zucchini noodles), in this Meatballs with Zoodles recipe post, I show you how to make zoodles without a spiralizer. So feel free to check that out.
- You could make a vegetarian meatball sub. Perhaps gratinate some cheese on top.
How to make this recipe gluten free
Making this a gluten free recipe is very simple. All you have to do is:
- Replace the plain regular wheat flour with gluten free flour.
- And 2, replace the breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs. You could make your own breadcrumbs by blending gluten free bread, maybe make it go a bit stale first. However, gluten free breadcrumbs are available in most supermarkets.
How to make this recipe vegan
To make this a vegan recipe, all you have to do is replace the binder, which is this case is an egg. How do you make a vegan binder you ask? Well, the way I did it was by using chai seeds.
Yes I know, not the ingredient you were expecting to here, right? However, believe it or not, you can use them to make an excellent dairy free binder. So first, you need to put the chai seeds in a pestle mortar and grind them up until they are fine and powdery.
From there, add 3 times the amount of water to chai seeds (the measurements for this recipe should be 1½ tablespoons of chai seeds to 4½ tablespoons of water).
Mix the water and chai seed powder together and then leave for about 10 minutes. You should end up with a very gloopy and sticky mixture which will act as a great binder for the lentil meatball mixture.
How to freeze and store these meatballs
To freeze these meatballs, just put them in a large container with the sauce before storing in the freezer. Then, when you want to re-heat them, just slightly de-frost them in the microwave and then heat them back up in a pan.
I prefer to heat the lentil balls up in a pan with a large surface area where they can be spread out, rather than heating them in a pot where they are bunched up together. Simply because trying to stir the lentil balls when they are bunched up can easily cause them to break.
And if you want to meal prep this recipe, you can store the meatballs in individual containers with your desired side (rice, pasta, couscous etc.).
Thank you all for reading through my recipe post, I am grateful! If you would like to subscribe to this blog (you’ll get a free recipe e-book if you do) you are more than welcome to do so.
Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
- 400 g of tinned plum tomatoes
- 1 big bunch of parsley roughly chopped
- 1 pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).
Pre-heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add you olive oil, then add your chopped onion. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, then add your garlic. Fry your onions and garlic for another minute until cooked and translucent. Turn the heat off and set aside.
Set up a food processor with the blade attachment and add your sweated onions and garlic, your lentils, flour, breadcrumbs, your egg, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Blend until 80% bonded, where the mixture is not completely smooth, but just a little bit course.
Get a bowl of water and lightly wet your hands. Use your moist hands to roll your lentil mixture into golf ball sized balls. Place your lentil meatballs on a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
Whilst the lentil balls are cooking, pre-heat a pot or a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and your garlic. Fry the garlic for about half a minute then add your tinned crushed tomatoes.
Break the plum tomatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula as you bring the sauce to a boil.
Once the tomato sauce is boiling, turn the heat down and simmer the sauce for 5-10 minutes.
Turn the heat off, add your parsley, a pinch of sugar and then season with salt and pepper.
Serve the meatballs with the tomato sauce, and with an added side if you wish. Such as pasta, couscous, rice etc.
- Drain and rise your meatballs before using them to make your mixture.
- Don't fully blend the mixture 100% smooth, make sure it's a bit course so that it's easier to mould the mixture into balls.
- Make sure you have a binder, which can be an egg, or if you're vegan, you can grind 1½ tablespoons of chai seeds into a powder, mix that powder with 4½ tablespoons of water and then leave that mixture for 10 minutes until it becomes a thick, gloopy mixture.
- You can serve these meatballs with rice, pasta (this recipe would pair well with this Aglio e Olio recipe), zoodles (in this Zoodles with Meatballs post, I show you how to make zoodles without a spiralizer), couscous or you could make a meatball sub with them.
- To make this a gluten free recipe, just replace the flour with gluten free flour, and replace the breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs.
- You can store the meatballs in a large container and freeze these meatballs for a later day. Or you can store away individual portions of these meatballs with something like rice, pasta or couscous, if you want to use this recipe as a meal prep recipe.