Lentil ‘Meatballs’ with Lemon Pesto

Meatless Mondays are back! We’re pretty good about only eating meat a few days a week, but I haven’t been great about sticking to it on a regular basis lately. These tasty little things are definitely going to be a huge help in kicking the meat. And while this lemon pesto makes the perfect pairing, I can imagine a number of other sauces that would work well with the lentil balls. Tonight we served them with the pesto over some lightly sauteed Swiss chard, and it was amazing! I know I’ll make it again exactly like this – although I also want to try a more classic route too and try them with a red sauce over noodles one of these nights.

Lentils ‘Meatballs’ with Lemon Pesto
via sprouted kitchen

Lentil ‘Meatballs’
2 Cups Cooked Lentils
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 Cup Ricotta
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Fennel Seed, crushed
2 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
Hefty Pinch of Dried or Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Each Sea Salt and Pepper
2/3 Cup Breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably)

Lemon Pesto Sauce
1 Clove Garlic
1/4 Cup Pinenuts
Zest and Juice of one Meyer Lemon
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Cup Packed Basil Leaves
1/4 – 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. Water to thin

In a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parlsey, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.
For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400′. Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1” round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well. If it seems pretty wet and it falling apart, stir in another tbsp. or two of breadcrumbs until the ball with stay together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don’t need lots of space between, they won’t spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil (recommended!)
Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly. Serve with your favorite noodles, on a bed of sauteed greens, or simply on their own with a nice drizzle of the pesto sauce.

  1. Yummy! This looks so delish! I don’t try vegetarian burgers or meatballs too much because they tend to all me similar. But this looks unique and wonderful. I’ll add it to my cooking to-do. Thanks!

  2. the hungry irishman said:

    these sound wonderful. excellent use of lentil

  3. These ‘meatballs’ sound absolutely delicious and it’s such a good idea to use lentils. Is there any particular lentil which works better for this recipe? I have puy lentils and red lentils in the kitchen, and was wondering which would be best?

    • raudette said:

      I used basic european brown lentils, but I’m betting most lentils would work well and could give you a little variety in flavor!

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