Amazing flavoursome spiced lentil meatballs with a simple and fantastic tomato sauce.
So, are these lentil “meatballs” a good alternative for actual meatballs? In my opinion, absolutely!! In fact, I can never get enough of that spiced lentil flavour. One thing to mention is that the lentil meatballs are quite delicate so make sure you are gentle with them.
Now, what would you usually put in a meatball? Well, you would add a bunch of aromatics and flavour them things like herbs and seasonings. But what you always put in meatballs or a meat patty is at least one egg. The egg is important because it is the stabilizer, the glue that binds it all together.
I needed to give these meatballs a binding agent but I also wanted to make this a vegan recipe. So how do we stabilize and bind the lentil mixture without eggs? Well, there are actually a number of ways, but I used a super cool technique that involves chia seeds. Yep, that’s right, ground chia seeds. When you mix 3 parts water into 1 part ground chia seeds, after 10 minutes the mixture will go all gloopy. You can then use that mixture as a binder.
As much as I loved these lentil meatballs, they can be quite dense when you eat them by themselves. This may not be an issue for some of you, but it was just something I noticed. However, as soon as you eat them with the tomato sauce, rice, pasta etc. It blends really nicely.
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Lentil Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
- 400 g of tinned plum tomatoes
- 1 big bunch of parsley roughly chopped
- A pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).
- Grind up the chia seeds and in a pestle mortar until you get a powder. Put the chia seeds in a bowl and add 4½ tablespoons of water and mix through. Let it sit for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Pre-heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add some olive oil, then add your onions. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, then add your garlic. Fry your onions and garlic for another minute until 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, chia seed mixture, coriander, cumin, paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Blend until 80% bonded. So not completely smooth, just a little bit coarse.
- Get a bowl of water and lightly wet your hands. Use your moist hands to roll your lentil mixture into balls. Place your lentil meatballs on a tray lined with baking paper (they are quit delicate and soft so be careful).
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 190 degrees C.
Put the tinned plum tomatoes in a bowl and use your hands to crush and break down the tomatoes.
Pre-heat a pot or a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil, then add your garlic. Fry the garlic for about half a minute, then add your tinned crushed tomatoes.
- Let the tomato sauce bubble in the pan for about 1 minute.
- Turn the heat off, add your parsley, a pinch of sugar and then season with salt and pepper.
- The texture of these "meatballs" are quite delicate so be gentle with them.
- These lentil meatballs are also fantastic when served with couscous.