June 14, 2010

Reinventing Old Favorites

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?

Lentil balls!

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.

Lentil balls

- 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.


  1. I've really started to love your blog!! I was a vegetarian for awhile, and I really wanted to get into veganism this year and before i start college. I find your recipes/daily routines helpful and interesting. May I ask what is a SIAB? That is the only thing I was confused about.

  2. Please do, Heather! I hope you enjoy. :D

  3. Thank you so much! I'm glad you like the blog. SIAB is short for smoothie in a bowl. I got the idea from Kath (http://www.katheats.com). Basically, it's just a green smoothie in a bowl with assorted toppings eaten with a spoon. You can find recipes on my blog and Kath's as well. :)

  4. I love your blog :) I particularly am thankful for the burger patty recipes as I take sandwiches to school everyday and it's so nice to mix it up a bit :).

    It's funny, I used to hate meatballs when I ate meat (I was a spag bol girl) but I made some similar to this the other night and they were pretty much the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. They are a great idea to feed the family when they come over for dinner - something relatively normal that won't make them freak out - and still healthy, simple and delicious.

  5. very nice lentil balls!! i loooooooove homemade sauce.

  6. Thanks, Emma! Your looks great too. :)

    I love vegan spag bol, too. I make mine with tempeh and it's delicious. Oddly enough, I never had it with meat, but it's great with tempeh!

  7. Me too! I never buy canned/jarred sauce anymore.

  8. I love your blog. What an incredible story...how inspiring.

    Your lentil balls look delicious, what a great idea!

  9. Thank you Anna. I love yours as well. :D