Lentil Meatballs, part one - in a skillet with passata and pasta
Spaghetti and meatballs mean one thing to me and my food heart. Saturday night, on the couch with an episode of Mad Men and a never ending packet of tim tams glass of wine. My most favourite meatball recipe involves three kinds of meat, plus pancetta, plus anchovies, plus it's good. Really, really good. But you know what? Lately I've been wanting to add more lentils to my life. So I decided to make some lentil meatballs.
I suppose they're not really "meat"balls, as they certainly lack in meat (though I kept the anchovies because I'm a sucker for these salty, omega-3 rich beauties), but the name "lentil balls" just doesn't sound as dainty. Or delicious. And though I have to say they're not particularly dainty, they are rather delicious.
This recipe is lightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen's lentil meatball recipe. I baked the balls (they really hold together better baked compared to pan frying) and then added them to a pan of olive oil sauteed onions. In goes a jar of quality passata and then it's all popped into the oven. Cook your pasta and ten minutes later you have dinner. Vetta pasta sent me some of their high fibre pasta to sample and I must say I'm impressed with the fibre content, which is double that of regular pasta. The price is also comparable to other pastas on the market, but Vetta is Australian owned and use Australian wheat (and in the case of this high fibre variety, oat fibre). It also taste like it should, unlike other certain high fibre "noodles" out there. Nice. Thank you, Vetta!
I thought the wheat pasta tones and meatballs in the pan were a stunning contrast and compliment to the bricks, so I took them outside to be photographed. Actually, I got distracted deciding which books I want to order online for my birthday (in September, not even close!) and all of a sudden it was too dark inside to photograph this recipe inside. But hey, now I have books on order AND lentil balls. Who's winning now?
Part two of this lentil meatball business is coming up, as I found another way to serve these nutritious nuggets. I might even prefer this alternative way of serving them...though as long as there's an episode of Mad Men and a glass of red wine involved, I'm happy.
Lentil Meatballs in a skillet with passata and pasta
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
1/2 a Brown Onion, diced
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups Passata
*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 (besides the onion, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and passata). 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 10-15 minutes until lightly browned on both sides, turning the balls halfway through baking (note: for a crispier ball, brush with olive oil before baking).
6. Meanwhile put a pot of salted water on to boil for your pasta. Heat the oil in a large skillet that can go into the oven and sautee the onion with a small pinch of sea salt over medium heat for ~5 minutes until soft. Add the balls to the pan, turning them to allow ~20 seconds browning on each side, then add the passata. Give the pan a shake, then pop it all in the oven for ~10 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and thick.
7. Drain the pasta and serve with the lentil meatballs, passata and extra parmesan. Oh, and that glass of red wine.