Monday, November 21, 2011

Lentil Veggieballs

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to try a recipe from the New York Times' Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe series tonight.  (There are a ton of good recipes on the site.  I'd definitely recommend checking it out!)  I made the lentil veggieballs--also known as a vegan version of meatballs.  Follow this link to the original recipe for the balls:, though I'll paste it below in order to include my own additions and veganizations.
Lentil Veggieballs
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced (or, if you can't find button mushrooms, use another variety of small, white mushrooms)
  • The equivalent of 3 eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer powder)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Add the egg-equivalents, bread crumbs, parsley, walnuts, and cooked lentils to the cooled vegetables and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9- x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface.
5. Roll the lentil-veggie mixture into round, 1.5 inch balls, making sure to pack the mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4-inch of space between the balls.
6. Roast 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.

Yield: About 2 dozen 1.5-inch meatballs.


The bad news is that this recipe proves my mom right when she says that vegan cooking is labor-intensive.  It definitely took over 2 hours to make the balls from start to finish.  Even though some of that time was down time (cooking the lentils, baking the balls), there was still a lot of chopping involved.  Rachel went out to dinner tonight and Simon worked pretty late, but luckily Rachel arrived home in time to help me out!    

The good news is that this recipe proves me right when I say that vegan cooking is extra nutritious.  These balls replace red meat with a hearty combination of protein-heavy lentils and walnuts along with plenty of vegetable nutrition.  I definitely felt satisfied eating them.

Simon and I ate them as lentil veggieball subs tonight, meaning we put the balls on rolls and topped with tomato sauce.  In my opinion, the lentil veggieballs were pretty good.  Not great, but I'm glad to have tried them and I enjoyed eating them.  They're not very crispy or firm--as I remember meatballs being--but they have a good flavor.  Simon's non-vegan opinion was that they were okay, but he thought they taste more like baked falafel than meatballs.  (Still, he did have seconds.)   

We made extra lentil veggieballs so we can have whole wheat spaghetti and lentil veggieballs tomorrow night.  We plan to make the Well's spinach-basil pesto tomorrow night to go with the spaghetti, so here's the recipe for that:  I'll let you all know how the pesto ends up tasting tomorrow night!


  1. Pesto Update: The Spinach-Basil Pesto was great! I substituted panko bread crumbs for Parmesan cheese, and used the resulting pesto as a sauce for spaghetti. The lentil veggieballs went perfectly with the spaghetti and pesto. I recommend eating the lentil veggieballs this way, rather than as a sub sandwich.

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