These lentil & mushroom vegan meatballs are served in a simple tomato sauce and are dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy and absolutely delicious served with spaghetti, in a sub, and a variety of other dishes.
Start by making the tomato sauce. First, blend the tomatoes in a food processor. They don't have to be too finely blended but if you prefer a very smooth sauce, you can also sieve them.
Add the tomato juice to a saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Leave it to simmer for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn at the bottom). During this time it will thicken and reduce.
Add the lentils to a saucepan and pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, covering the pan with a lid and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the majority of the water has soaked up. *
Meanwhile, dice the onion and garlic and add to a large frying pan with some olive oil. Sautee lightly for a couple of minutes, to soften.
Add the mushrooms to the pan, along with the various herbs and spices and mix, to combine thoroughly.
Lightly fry the mushroom mix for around 10 minutes, till the mushrooms are cooked through completely. Once the lentils and mushrooms are cooked then remove them from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Once cooled, blend the mushroom mix and lentils for a few seconds, to begin breaking them down. Add the almond flour to the blender and continue to blend until you have a thick, coarse mixture. **
Once the mixture is blended, you're ready to form the meatballs: Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the lentil mixture into your hand and form a ball. I was able to make 30 balls with this mixture.
Place the lentil meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC (fan-assisted). You can also drizzle/ spray the meatballs with some oil and it will help them become crispier in the oven (which I prefer). Once the meatballs are ready, they will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside - so basically the perfect texture.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and mix. Sprinkle with a pinch of chopped parsley and serve hot. Serve with zucchini zoodles, spaghetti (with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or vegan cheese), within a sub, etc.
Note* If you want to turn your sauce into a simple marinara then add some garlic, onion, and some Italian herbs- voila. * It's best to use a lid that you can see through if you're not sure of the exact timings. However, I just simmer them for around 15 minutes then remove the lid to check them and cook for longer, if required. ** Make sure the texture is quite 'coarse' still, so it doesn't turn into a puree. If that happens you won't be able to form the mixture into balls. However, note that if the mixture is slightly too wet then you can fix this with a little extra almond flour. Just be careful or else the meatballs will find it harder to hold their shape and become more crumbly. How To Store? Can They be Frozen?These meatballs can be frozen before and after they're baked. I've only ever frozen them for a couple of weeks at a time, so I don't know exactly how long for but I would say up to two months should be fine.If storing in the refrigerator then keep in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Check the blog post for more tips!