Wednesday, January 15

Lentil "Meatballs" with Basil-Almond-Lemon Pesto

You won't miss the meat with these protein-packed lentil balls and tangy pesto

Lentil Meatballs with Basil Almond Lemon Pesto

We decided to go easy on the cleanse-worthy eating over the weekend so that I could make these lentil "meatballs" from Sprouted Kitchen. While undoubtedly still a healthy, protein-packed meal, these do contain a little bit of cheese and breadcrumbs (as every good meatball recipe should). Unsurprisingly, this meal was my favorite thing that I've eaten lately. The pureed lentils really do have a meaty texture but manage to stay tender and moist while baked. I like to serve them more like quinoa cakes: with an herby sauce and lots of baby greens on top. You could easily treat them just like meatballs, though, and toss with tomato sauce and pasta. Leftovers lose a little bit of their crunchy crust but make a delicious and portable snacks or lunch.

Related Recipes:
- Chicken & Prosciutto Meatballs
- Parmesan & Herb Quinoa Cakes
- Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Lentil "Meatballs" with Basil-Almond-Lemon Pesto:
For Pesto
  • Combine 6 oz. fresh basil leaves, heaping 1/4 c. toasted almonds,* the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese in a food processor. Add in a pinch of salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.
  • Stream in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil until a sauce forms. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. If you want the sauce thinner, add in a little water.
For "Meatballs"
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Pulse 3 c. of cooked black lentils** in a food processor until a kind of chunky paste forms (most of the lentils should be completely pureed but some should be mostly intact).
  • Scrape the lentils into a large mixing bowl and add in 3 beaten eggs, scant 1 c. panko breadcrumbs, 1 1/4 c. ricotta cheese, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp. minced parsley, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 tsp. dried Italian herbs and stir to combine.
  • Roll the lentil mixture into 1" balls and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet - you should get about 2 dozen meatballs.
  • Lightly brush each ball with olive oil and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, then gently flip each ball over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • To serve, put a few spoonfuls of pesto on the bottom of a plate, top with meatballs, dollop each ball with more pesto, and sprinkle with a handful of baby arugula.

Serves six
*Add raw almonds to a dry pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until nuts smell toasty.
**I used 1 c. of dried lentils that I covered in water and cooked for 20 minutes, or until tender. Can substitute with other firm whole lentils, such as green or du Puy.