I’m trying to eat more plant-based food lately. I know I know, ew. But I’d like to live longer and maybe have a slightly less detrimental impact on the environment, so maybe eat a bean sometime. (Legume didn’t work well with the joke)
This recipe is shockingly delicious, easy enough, and can be turned into meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, or even veggie ground if you want. This recipe is still a tiny bit tedious but TRUST ME. This will be the BEST vegetarian meat replacement you ever have. Plus it makes a relatively large amount of mix that can be divided and frozen.
This makes about 22-24 large-ish meatballs.
What you need:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dried green or puy lentils
- 4 1⁄2 ounces tomato sauce (or leftover spaghetti sauce!)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- First we need to hydrate those lentils, bring the 2 cups of water along with salt to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until softened. Strain and set aside to cool.
- In a food processor, or like me, awkwardly in a blender, place 1 cup rolled oats and blend until coarse. A few large pieces are okay. We don’t want this to be too fine of a flour, the inconsistency adds great texture. Remove and pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add your lentils along with the tomato sauce and blend in the same manner. A few chunks and rogue lentils are fine, but you want it to be blended enough to hold together. Think chunky applesauce. If you’re having trouble blending this, add up to 1/2 cup of water, but no more or your meatballs (lentilballs?) will be too wet to work with. Add this to the bowl.
- Add onion, cheddar, egg, garlic powder, parsley, cayenne, salt, pepper and mix thoroughly. Let this sit at least 15 minutes, you can place it in the fridge but you don’t have to. The oat mixture will absorb the liquid and make this thicker and easier to handle.
- Place your panko in a shallow bowl or dish. Divide your mix, I just eyeballed about 2-2.5 tbsp sized balls, and roll them into the panko. This will help the outside become even more crisp and delicious, but also help them hold together a little better.
- Place balls on sheet or large plate and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (freezer for less time if you’re in a hurry). Now is a great time to prep some sauce and pasta!
- Preheat the oven to 375F and place a large non-stick skillet with a tbsp or two of oil on the stove. Lightly brown all sides of the balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes and serve with your favourite pasta and sauce!
- If you’re making meatloaf just place the mixture into a 9×5 loaf pan with your favourite meatloaf glaze (ketchup) and bake for about 45 minutes.
- You cannot make the burger versions of these on a grill, they will make a shit mess and you will be sad. Be sure to cool them, and pan fry + oven.
- You can skip the pan frying AND cooling steps if you wish, but the fry gives a delicious crust and the cooling helps the mixture hold together better.
- Always cook this mixture in a non-stick pan. The combination of egg, cheese and oat will make a mess anywhere else. Cast iron should be fine if its a well seasoned pan with a good amount of oil.
- I have not tested a vegan version of this so I’m not sure if vegan cheese like daiya and a flax egg or something would hold up. Try it and lemme know!