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Vegetarian Italian Meatballs

Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 3 cloves garlic approx. 1.5 tablespoon, minced
  • 1.5 cups cooked and cooled green lentils for extra flavor, cook them in vegetable stock
  • 1.5 tablespoons of dried Italian seasoning dried basil/oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons grated pecorino romano + more for coating, parmesan, or asiago cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs + more for coating

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Heat a large skillet (I prefer cast iron for this) over medium heat.
  • Once the skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the shallots, and the garlic.
  • Sauté until just slightly golden brown, approx. 2.5 minutes, careful not to brown/burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To a blender or food processor, add the cooked lentils, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, sautéed garlic and shallots, Italian seasonings, fresh parsley, tomato paste, grated cheese, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper.
  • Pulse, mixing until combined, but be sure not to puree. Keeping some full lentils in the mix is fine, but most of it should be a mushier consistency.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  • Add egg and 3 tablespoons of Italian bread crumbs. Blend well with your clean bare hands.
  • The texture should be dough-y. If it's too wet, add more bread crumbs.
  • Use a tablespoon or cookie dough scoop to scoop out rounded amounts of the mixture and carefully form into balls. The mixture is pretty easy to mold, but it's fragile. It's best to rest the ball in the palm of one hand, and use two fingers from your other hand to carefully and gently form into a ball. If you find cracks, dampen your fingers with a little water to help bind and reform. Repeat until all of the balls are formed. I got 10 out of my mix.
  • Spread some grated cheese and extra bread crumbs onto a plate and carefully roll the balls through to coat.
  • Heat your skillet over medium heat once again, and once hot, add olive oil.
  • Carefully place the balls onto the hot skilled and brown, for approx. 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Ensure to shake the pan or use a silicone spoon/tongs to roll the balls around so they brown evenly on all sides.
  • Once done cooking, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and set aside until all of your balls are ready.
  • Once all balls are browned and set on the baking sheet, transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let them cool slightly. They will firm as they cool.
  • Serve them up on their own with marinara sauce, a plate of pasta, or a as a meatball sub! Treat them as you would treat Italian meatballs.

Notes

These are best fresh, but can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.