I was looking for a way to have spaghetti and meat balls without the meat and without the gluten. These are meat-free, gluten-free, completely vegan, not to mention delicious and satisfied my comfort food craving. They definitely aren’t the same as the real thing, but I promise they taste really good and have a great texture.
Tip: bake the mushroom lentil balls for a good amount of time until golden and firm, so they stand up better to the tomato sauce. Heat the tomato sauce in a pot and then gently fold in the bean balls to cover in the sauce. Serve immediately. The “meat” balls will soften with time, so it’s best not to leave them in the sauce for too long. These will work well flattened into burger patties. Makes 10-12 “Meat” balls. Total cooking time with prep: 1 hour
- 1 cup walnuts (may substitute sunflower seeds), finely chopped
- Soak walnuts for 6 hours in warm filtered water with a pinch of sea salt, then rinse and spread on baking sheet to dry in oven at 150 for a few hours (until dry). Note: sunflower seeds must be soaked for 7 hours.
- 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats, processed into a coarse flour (a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle work great for this)
- 1/2 cup uncooked green lentils
- 2 heaping cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms (one 8-oz package)
- 2 tablespoons ground flax + 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup finely chopped destemmed kale leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh organic parsley, finely chopped (OR 2 Tbs Gourmet Garden chopped organic parsley)
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (OR 1 Tbs Gourmet Garden chopped organic basil)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried, OR ½ drop Rosemary essential oil – to get this, dip a toothpick into the bottle and swirl toothpick into recipe)
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped (non oil-packed) sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp water, mixed
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 drop Oregano essential oil)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Add lentils into a medium pot along with 2 and 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, adding more water if the lentils dry out. Once the lentils are fork tender, remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until it’s a coarse paste with some lentil pieces still intact. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325F. Toast the chopped walnuts for 9-12 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. After toasting, increase oven temp to 350F.
- In a very large skillet or wok, add the coconut oil along with the finely chopped mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt. Saute over medium-high heat for about 7-9 minutes, until most of the water cooks off. Now add the kale, toasted walnuts, herbs, and raw apple cider vinegar. Stir until combined and continue cooking for another few minutes until the kale is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the mashed lentils when ready.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ground chia seeds and water, stir for 10 seconds and immediately pour into the skillet mixture. Stir to combine. Now stir in the 1/2 cup oat flour until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be fairly moist and sticky. If it’s way too sticky, add a bit more oat flour. If it’s dry, add another tbsp of water.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape lentil mixture into balls and pack tightly with your hands so they hold together. Place on baking sheet an inch or so apart. Repeat for the rest. If the mixture is too hot to handle, let it cool for a bit first and then proceed.
- Bake the lentil balls at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, gently flip over, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and firm on all sides.
- After baking, place balls on a cooling rack for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
- Serve with gluten-free pasta and tomato sauce (either homemade or store-bought, and low-sugar).
Here’s to your Thriving Life!