Sometimes it's hard to make pasta interesting. As a vegan, pasta options are shoved down my throat in restaurants, formal events, etc so pasta has become something I have often deemed uncreative. There are so many other kinds of grains that are arguably more nutritious, so why cook pasta? Well, sometimes there's no replacement for a heaping bowl of it, that's why. This just looks like your standard pasta with tomato based sauce, right? Wrong! What's that hiding under the mound of spinach and spaghetti?
Y'all, when I was an omnivore, I loved me some meatballs. I would look forward to them every time my mom made them, sampling while she cooked and eating 3+ with dinner. On holidays, my mouth salivated for my grandmother's meatballs. In short, I was a meatball enthusiast. Since being vegan, I've tried a pre-packaged soy based meatball and was disgusted. Since that day, I swore off of finding a good vegan alternative. I assumed I would never eat them again because the packaged stuff was gross and I figured most homemade alternatives wouldn't be nearly as good. I was wrong.
- 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked through
- 3/4 cup water or vegetable stock
- 1/8 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax, 2 tbsp water)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 tsp each oregano, rosemary and parsley
- S&P, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375.
- In a medium sized pot, bring water and lentils to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain.
- In one bowl, combine flour, nutritional yeast, herbs and seasoning.
- Once lentils are done, add to a separate bowl with oil, garlic and shallot. Mash with a fork. Add flax egg.
- Add flour mixture to mashed lentils 1 tbsp at a time. Combine after each tbsp until the mixture is firm but not too dry.
- Measure out each ball using a tablespoon. Form into balls using your hands and place on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway, until balls are golden brown and crisp.
They should look like this!
The best part about these is that they don't fall apart. I could fork cut them into small pieces and scoop them up with sauce and pasta and they held up perfectly. I think the key is the flax egg. Regardless, these had awesome flavor and were better than most actual meatballs I've had (sorry, mom). They weren't overly greasy and the lentils gave them a nice meaty flavor/texture. I think anyone can enjoy these, vegan or not.
The sauce was super simple and tasty. I just combined a can of Glen Muir fire roasted crushed tomatoes with 1/2 can water, 1 garlic clove, 1 shallot, 1 small yellow squash, 1/2 red pepper and added basil, oregano, crushed red peppa and S&P to taste. I brought it to a low boil then simmered until I was ready to serve. I was going to add the spinach to the sauce, but then I decided I would rather have the spinach more on the raw side; it added a nice texture and temperature contrast.
Mmm. When all is said and done, Italian is still my ultimate comfort cuisine.