(Meat)Balling on Lockdown

Tasty balls.

I’ll tell you what, it’s not so easy to keep up a vegan food blog when the grocery stores are suddenly having shortages on staples like legumes, pulses, rice, and dried pasta. I hear the carnivores can’t get their carne … maybe that explains all the sudden raids on plant-based proteins. And for the moment my personal workload has actually increased, between writing up two complex psych reports a week and helping a small business go online-only. So I’ve been a bit short on both time and ingredients.

At any rate, I hope everyone out there is holding on and hanging in. I had intended to feature one of my favorite “survival” recipes, a simple concoction that kept me alive for about $10 a week one especially lean summer when I was a starving student, but I could not find green lentils anywhere. I did manage to find black lentils in bulk at a specialty market not far from my home, and I wondered as I contemplated buying them whether they might make good vegan “meat” balls. Turns out they did! I like them better than the green variety. When the supply chain recovers I may come back and experiment with adding baby Bellas or walnuts for additional meaty flavor and texture, but these were pretty baller for a no-frills plant-based lockdown meal. I even forgot to add flax “egg” (or some other binder), but they still held together adequately thanks to the stickiness of the cooked lentils. They’ll probably be a little more cohesive with it added, though.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup black lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 smallish-medium onion, chopped semi-finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 flax “egg” (1 T flaxseed meal + 3 T water, soaked 15 min)
  • 2 T crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 1 T all-purpose or 1-to-1 gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the lentils and water to a boil in a small or medium saucepan and lower to simmer. Let the lentils cook about 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. Set aside to let cool.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onions over low-medium heat until they become translucent, then add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes, releasing the aroma. Add water as needed to keep the aromatics lubed. Add the salt, oregano, and basil, and however much pepper you like, stirring until the herbs darken the onions and permeate the oil. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the over to 400F. In a food processor (this can also be done in a blender if you pulse it and scrape down the sides between pulses) pulse the cooked lentils together with the tomato, “egg” and flour into a rough, “meaty” mixture that is partially broken down and sticky but still retains some of the structure of the lentils. Combine this lentil mixture in the pan with the cooked onions, garlic, and herbs to soak up all the good flavors, and mix thoroughly.

Scoop out the lentil “dough” or roll it in 1″ balls, and place the balls on lightly oiled or sprayed baking sheets (I use olive or avocado) — the yield is about 24. I baked them for about 25 minutes, flipping them with a spatula at 15. They got pretty well browned where they made contact with the sheet, but that part turned out to be the tastiest!

Serve over pasta with a sauce like Sassy Tomato Marinara (pictured) or just suck them down on their own. If you have leftovers, store them in a single layer sauce-less; I like to reheat them in the oven or a pan to maintain their structure. Six people can have four, four people can have six, three can have eight, and so on.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. mirandagualtieri says:

    This is a good one, lol. 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madame le P. says:

      Thanks, ma cherie!

      Like

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