These are incredibly satisfying, and, despite the lengthy list of steps, are pretty easy to prepare. The process is comparable to regular meatballs, just with more veggie cutting and less gross meat smell.
The recipe is adapted from the NYT, which specifies half hour waiting periods between stages, allowing the ingredients to cool. I adhered to this the first time, but was more casual about it the second, waiting for everything to cool rather than waiting for a full half hour. Cooking the veggies and lentils at the same time saves a lot of time, as they can cool next to one another, which is better than staggering cool times. The final cooling step, where you put the entire mix into the fridge, might not be necessary either, but is useful as it allows time to review the recipe and clean up a but before they’re rolled.
« 400 ° // 30 – 45m per pan »
• 1 1/2 c lentils
• 1/4 c olive oil
• 1 large onion
• 2 carrots
• 2 celery stalks
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 T thyme leaves
• 2 tsp salt
• 3 T tomato paste
• 8 oz mushrooms
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 c bread crumbs
• 1/3 c parsley
• 1/4 c mixture of basil & oregano
1. Cook lentils: Combine with a little under 2qt water in stockpot and boil. Reduce to low and simmer 25m. When lentils are soft, drain and allow to cool.
2. Dice onion, carrots, celery, and chop mushrooms. They will reduce in size slightly while cooking, but they will not be mashed up, and so will retain their basic size & shape of your cut. Mushrooms are most impacted by heat and so can be a bit bigger. Mince garlic.
3. Cook vegetables: Add 1/4 c olive oil to pan and sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt. Stir frequently until veggies begin to brown.
4. Add tomato paste and continue to sauté for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
5. Add mushrooms and stir frequently for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
7. When cool, add lentils to vegetable mix. Then add eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, and spices. Mix until everything seems uniformly combined. I used a wooden spoon, but feel free to use your hand and smoosh as you go.
8. Refrigerate mixture for a half hour. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
9. Coat heavy pan with thin layer of olive or vegetable oil.
10. Roll mixture into meatballs or make patties for veggie burgers. The mixture is pretty soft and delicate, and can’t really be mushed tightly like a regular meatball. If you feel they are too loose, it is possible to add more bread crumbs without impacting flavor. Either way, they will stay solid after they are fully cooked, and become even more stable when cooled.
11. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes, flipping at least once. You’ll want to use a spatula or tongs for the first flip, then just jostle them until they’re nice and golden brown.
12. Serve whole with pasta, break up for lasagna, meat sauce, or ravioli, or freeze for later use.