Lentil Meatballs, part two – on mashed parsnip and butter beans with pesto

June 23, 2014


So this is the other way I’ve come to devour my lentil meatballs… on a generous bed of mashed parsnip, swimming in a pesto pool. There’s a lot to love here, folks.

Sara‘s recipe, from which these lentil balls are loosely adapted, calls for a lemony pesto sauce and indeed it is a completely delicious marriage. Carrot tops made this pesto a little different and a little lovely. I find this parsnip mash the perfect platform to host a drizzle of pesto and my ever generous dousings of extra virgin olive oil. The farm has provided us with the most beautiful parsnips, I’ve been mashing them with such glee, I’m starting to forget mashed potato ever existed.

And because I encourage clients to eat legumes for their health benefits and general tastiness, I put a few in the mash. It’s a great way to introduce legumes to those who profess to dislike these nutritious belles. I prefer a rough mash, a bit of texture… extra grooves for extra virgin olive oil to seep into, if you will. But you can elegantly puree the mixture if you desire. Whatever floats your lentil meatball boat.


Lentil Meatballs 

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen‘s Lentil Meatballs

Makes ~18 balls

1 cup Whole Green Lentils
2 & ½ cups Water
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon diced Anchovy fillets* (from a jar, in olive oil)
¼ cup Breadcrumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
½ cup smooth Ricotta
2 Eggs, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf Parsley
Zest of ½ a Lemon
A pinch of both Smoked and Sweet Paprika
A pinch Sea Salt and freshly Cracked Pepper

*these are optional, though if leaving out you might like to salt your meatballs a little more keenly.

1. Rinse the lentils in water, then place in a pot and add the water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for ~15 minutes, adding more water as necessary to prevent it drying out. When fork tender, drain and allow to cool.
2. When cooled, puree the lentils in a food processor until smooth (I don’t mind some lumps).
3. Add the lentils to a mixing bowl with all the other ingredients. Stir well to combine and leave the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
4. Using moist hands, roll the mixture into balls then place on a plate and allow them to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
5. Place the balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for ~15 minutes until lightly browned on both sides, turning the balls halfway through baking (note: for a crispier ball, brush with olive oil before baking). Serve with the mashed parsnip and butter beans plus a generous spoonful of pesto and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Lemony Carrot Top and Basil Pesto

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

2 cups fresh Basil leaves
1 cup Carrot tops
1 clove Garlic
1/4 cup Pinenuts
1/4 cup freshly grated quality Parmesan cheese
A pinch of Sea Salt
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more for a thinner pesto)

1. Add the basil, carrot tops, peeled garlic clove, pinenuts, parmesan, salt and the juice of half the lemon to a food processor.
2. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil as you blitz the ingredients into pesto land. Taste and add more lemon and more oil/salt as desired.
3. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge with a layer of olive oil over the top.

Mashed Parsnip and Butter Beans

This recipe makes a decent amount of mash, depending on the size of your parsnip.

To fancy this recipe up add some grated parmesan, fresh thyme leaves, sautéed onion and/or roasted garlic.

1 large Parsnip
1 x 400g tin Butter Beans (you can use any canned legume here but butter, white and cannellini work particularly well)

1. Peel and chop the parsnip into cubes, then place into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil on the stove and cook for ~15 minutes until fork tender (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your cubes).
2. Rinse the beans and in the last minute, add them to the parsnip to heat through. Strain the beans and parsnip then mash, seasoning with a bit of pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning as desired. I find a good parsnip doesn’t need any salt, especially if you’re adding the canned legumes which are usually in a salty solution.


Heidi xo


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  • laurasmess June 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    It’s Rice4Ever with mashed parsnips and butter beans! 🙂 Looks like an amazing combination Heidi, I can imagine how wonderful the lemony, herby pesto would be with the creamy butter bean and parsnip mash (not to mention those gorgeous meatballs). Love this two post series. They seem to represent winter and spring to me, though I know either can be eaten at any time of year! Definitely trying this Heidi xxx

    • Heidi June 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Wonderful! It is an incredible combination. & you’re right, you can adapt them for the different seasons x

  • Iron Chef Shellie June 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Damn girl! You know I’m a sucker for balls, and these look miiiiiighty fine!

    • Heidi June 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Haha I did think of you when writing “meatballs” x

  • Millie l Add A Little June 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    This sounds amazing Heidi! Love how comforting this is!

    • Heidi June 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Thanks, Millie! x

  • Kate June 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Oh Heidi! This looks so delicious. Anything with pesto is amazing, but pesto with carrot tops?! Awesome! Plus parsnip mash and anchovies yeeees I must make this asap 🙂 xx

    • Heidi June 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Oh yay, thank you so much 🙂 x

  • Imogen June 25, 2014 at 9:24 am

    What are carrot tops lovely?

  • Gather & Grow Nutrition | JANUARY: Salt and Vinegar Potatoes January 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    […] Use potatoes instead of parsnip and make my POTATO AND BUTTER BEAN MASH (LINK). This is a great way to incorporate legumes into your […]