Lentil and mushroom meatballs that are vegan and grain-free! High in protein and low in calories (10 grams protein, 149 calories per 4 meatballs), they are also nut-free, very high in fiber, and can be made without oil.
Not all of them :).
For example, I love a good meatless meatball, like my Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs. Pair them with noodles or zoodles, tuck into submarine sandwiches, or serve straight up as a snack or appetizer. You’ll fall in love with their taste and texture, as well as the fact that they are:
*Very high in protein (almost 10 grams for 4 meatballs)
*Very high in fiber
The ingredients for these meatballs are minimal (and frugal), too.
Here’s what you will need: uncooked lentils, mushrooms, flaxseed meal, and onion, coconut flour, dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence, nutritional yeast, garlic, a bit of olive oil (I have an option in the notes for no oil, if needed), salt & pepper.
Begin by cooking the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover the lentils by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. You’re aiming for mostly, but not entirely, cooked lentils. They should be soft, but still have a bit of bite, and definitely not falling apart.
Immediately rinse the cooked lentils under cold water (to stop further cooking) and drain. Place the lentils in a food processor, followed by the mushrooms (cut these into pieces), nutritional yeast, and flaxseed meal. I don’t recommend a blender; it can over-process the meatball mixture.
The mushrooms and nutritional yeast add so much umami flavor to the meatballs. The former also helps to keep the texture of the meatballs from being dense. Nobody needs dense meatballs.
Pulse the whole mélange until it is chopped to a “meaty” texture (see below). It does not (and should not) be completley uniform in texture, but most of the lentils should be broken down.
Be sure to stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl several times so that the mixture is evenly chopped.
Ok, one more step before shaping and baking the meatballs. The extra time spent making these is well worth it, trust me.
Time to deepen the flavor of the meatballs with aromatics. Cook a medium onion (chopped) in 1 tablespoon olive oil until it is soft, about 5 minutes. If you cannot/do not eat oil, I have an option for you in the notes.
Next, add 3/4 cup (175 L) water, along with the chopped lentil-mushroom mixture, 4 cloves garlic (you can use garlic powder if pressed for time), Italian herbs, salt and pepper.
***Update 5/1/2019: Important Note***Adding the water at this stage allows you to cook over medium-high heat, to brown (and deepen the flavor) of the ingredients in the meatballs, without scorching and drying out the meatballs. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes longer until slightly browned and much of the liquid has been absorbed. The mixture should be thick and meaty, not wet. If it is still wet, cook several minutes longer (if they are too wet, they will not be very firm after baking).
The mixture should look fairly dry (see below), but will still be slightly moist.
Next, stir in 2 tablespoons of coconut flour. Rolled oats are often used to absorb moisture and act as a binder for meatless meatballs. Flaxseed meal handles much of the binding in this recipe, while coconut flour absorbs much of the moisture (while still keeping the meatballs tender). It also contributes a slightly springy texture, making them taste a lot like their meaty name.
Let the lentil mixture cool until it can be easily handled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F (200C). and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Finally, time for some meatball shaping. I used a medium sized cookie scoop (I had to sneak another reference to cookies in here) to create meatballs that were about 1 and 1/4-inches (3.175 cm).
Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and the surface of the meatballs looks somewhat dry, like so:
Serve immediately (e.g., with marinara sauce, noodles, zucchini noodles, etc.) or cool completely and store for future use.
Happy Meatless Monday, everyone!
Making this recipe? I would love to see it!
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- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 8 ounces mushrooms (white or crimini), quartered
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- ¾ cup (175 mL) water
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
- fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and enough water to cover by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes (the lentils will be slightly undercooked). Drain and rinse under cool water. Place lentils in a food processor.
- Add the mushroom pieces, nutritional yeast, and flaxseed meal to food processor with lentils. Pulse, using on/off pules, until chopped to a meaty texture (see photo), scraping sides and bottom of bowl several times so that the mixture is evenly chopped.
- In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the ¾ cup (175 L) water, lentil-mushroom mixture, garlic, Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes longer until slightly browned and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Note: The mixture should be thick and meaty, not wet. If it is still wet, cook several minutes longer (if they are too wet, they will not be very firm after baking).
- Remove from heat and stir in the coconut flour until blended. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shape lentil mixture into 1 and ¼-inch (3.175 cm) meatballs; place on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately (e.g., with marinara sauce, noodles, zucchini noodles, etc.) or cool completely and store for future use (see notes).
Lentils: I used common brown lentils, but you can use any variety of lentils in this recipe.
Oil-Free Option: Cook the onions in 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetarian broth or water instead of oil.