When I first heard the term “meatless meatballs” I thought it sounded a bit crazy. I mean, what does that even mean, “meatless meatballs”? It wasn’t until I started making things like falafel and black bean burgers that I really could see how a meatless meatball might work. If those bean based dishes could be so tasty and have a great texture then surely you can have something similar in meatball form.
So after doing some research, I realized that people are making meatless meatballs out of all kinds of different ingredients. Black beans, mushrooms, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa, just to name a few. Coincidentally I had been wanting to find more recipes to use lentils in so I went with a lentil and quinoa recipe. Part of the reason I wanted to use quinoa in addition to the lentils was because I have used it in chili and it really can give a meat-like texture to vegan recipes.
At this point, I was getting really excited to try out this recipes and with a few adjustments, the results were amazing! The texture was very similar to a traditional meatball for me which was really exciting and they had SO much flavor. I feel like anytime you stumble across a recipe that is a healthier version of something and it tastes similar to the original recipe, that is a huge win. What are some wins you have had in your kitchen making a traditional dish healthier? These “meatless meatballs” are one of my favorite meatless meals and I hope they become that for your family as well!
- 1 cup uncooked green lentils
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth to cook lentils and quinoa
- 1-3 tbs low sodium vegetable broth to add to lentil and quinoa mixture once blended
- 1 Tbs olive oil for sauteing onions
- 3 Tbs olive oil for cooking “meatballs”
- 1/2 medium red or yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 1/2 Tbs Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup gluten free oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- In a small pan, add green lentils and 2 cups vegetable broth and cook according to the package directions.
- In a separate small pan, cook quinoa and 1 cup vegetable broth according to the package directions.
- Mince the onion and saute in olive oil over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until tender.
- Add lentils, quinoa, oats, and garlic to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- If the mixture is too thick, add vegetable broth a tablespoon at a time until smooth.
- Transfer the lentil and quinoa mixture to a large bowl and add the cooked onion, Italian seasoning, salt, and stir to combine.
- Using your hands, scoop the mixture and form medium sized balls.
- Heat 3 Tbs of olive oil over medium to high heat in a large skillet.
- Add the meatballs to the skillet and cook 8-10 minutes rotating the meatballs occasionally to brown evenly*.
- Serve over gluten free pasta, gluten free bread to make meatball subs, or just with some pasta sauce.
- *Be careful when you are rotating the meatballs, they are very soft during cooking. I find rolling them around using a fork to get underneath them has been the easiest for me.
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