Okay so I know that veggie balls may not sound that appealing to most of you, but I have made these three times now and I have to admit that they are REALLY good. The NY Times featured the recipe in an article about The Meatball Shop in NYC, and said that the restaurant staff eat these around the clock which isn’t surprising now that I know how tasty they are.
The first time I made them we put tomato sauce on top and had sautéed greens on the side. The second time I made an impromptu cilantro pesto and I put that on top. Both were good, so experiment as you please!
Lentils, parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts, fresh parsley, sautéed mushrooms – what could be bad?
the meatball shop’s lentil veggie meatballs
2 cups lentils
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
5. Roll the mixture into round golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.
6. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
Yield: About 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs.