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Vegan Lentil Meatballs and Spaghetti

Hearty, savory, and "meaty" meatballs that are not just meatless but also fake-meatless! Made with no dead animal body parts or hard-to-pronounce artificial ingredients, only wholesome plants that are nourishing to your body and yet still irresistibly delicious.


There are few things that can match a steamy, hearty bowl of spaghetti and meatballs when it comes to comfort food but let's face it, it's not exaclty the healthies meal in the world. But what if it doesn't have to be a "guilty pleasure" anymore? With these easy whole food plant based lentil meatballs, this is now how healthy food looks like!


I've tried making this recipe in the oven and in an air fryer and both methods worked beautifully - the only slight difference is that the air fried ones came out a bit firmer than the oven baked. I'll include instructions for both methods below.

This recipe is very adaptable as well, feel free to use whatever beans you like or have on hands, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans are all fantastic options. It's honestly a fail safe recipe as long as you follow along the steps, one note, please don't ignore the refrigeration step! It's simple but crucial in achieving firm meatballs that won't fall apart in cooking. 


INGREDIENTS:

1 15 oz can lentil
6 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon coconut amino
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups marinara sauce
Olive oil to cook

TO MAKE:

- Preheat oven to 375°F;
- Rinse and drain the lentils, try to get as much water out as possible, then ransfer to a large mixing bowl;
- In a nonstick frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and sauté till they're slightly browned, add the balsamic vinegar to help with caramelization, cook for 4-5 mintues till liquid is mostly absorbed;
- Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1-2 minutes, then add carrots and shiitake mushrooms and season with the tamari sauce, coconut amino, cook till carrots are soft and mushrooms have let out the moisture, set aside to cool down;
- Mash the lentils with a potato masher, pulse in a food processor, or pulse with a handheld mixer, till they're coarsely grounded but leaving some texture, not blended;
- Transfer the sautéed veggies to the bowl, then add the oat flour, rice flour, and all the spices, mix well;
- Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or 1 hour if you have time, this step really helps with shaping the meatballs and the final texture;
- Once the mixture is chilled, rub a little olive oil onto your hands, then form about 2 - 3 tablespoons of mixture into a ball with your hands, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, repeat till all mixture is gone;
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, check and flip halfway, the meatballs should be firm and hard on the outside afterward;
- *If using an air fryer, air fry the meatballs at 380°F for 20 - 25 minutes, check halfway, and adjust the time as needed, every air fryer is different;
- Once the meatballs are done, heat the marinara sauce in a large saucepan till it slowly bubbles, add the meatballs and stir to coat with the sauce, serve with pasta and vegetables of choice, enjoy!


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