Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring me joy – and that’s a classic bowl of pasta and vegan lentil meatballs.
The difference here is that we’re using lentils as our main ingredients, making this an affordable, delicious dinner dish to have any time of the year.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- We’re working with just 11 ingredients, all of which are affordable and relatively easy to find. This includes lentils, spices, tomato paste, and mushrooms.
- It’s a versatile recipe that can be served with a variety of sides, sandwiches, and soups.
- This recipe uses minimal oil, no sugar, or overly processed ingredients.
I wanted to keep the same flavors I grew up with when having Italian-style meatballs. So, for this recipe, I decided to use some familiar ingredients including Italian seasonings, tomato paste, and toasted fennel seeds.
If you love a bit of heat, you may also choose to add red chili flakes.
Additionally, I’ve included 3 cooking methods in this recipe, depending on your preferences: air-fry, oven-cooked, and pan-fried.
What To Eat With Lentil Meatballs
This dish is a considerable protein source that doesn’t only have to be added to pasta.
One of my favorite ways to serve veggie meatballs is on a bed of white rice or yellow rice (probably the Puerto Rican side of me).
To make it kid-friendly, vegan mac and cheese is also a great side dish to include.
How To Make These Veggie Balls Oil-Free
This recipe uses minimal oil – just 1 tablespoon to be exact. However, it’s completely doable to make this recipe oil-free.
In step 2 in the recipe card, you’ll find that is where oil is used. To skip the oil, cook the chopped mushroom and onion in a bit of water instead. About 1 tablespoons worth.
Additionally, you’ll want to use a non-stick skillet or wok to prevent the ingredients from sticking.
Using a non-stick spray is also a great alternative to oil.
What Are Vegan Meatballs Made Of
Vegan meatballs can be made from a variety of plant-based ingredients including mushrooms, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, spices, tofu, TVP (textured vegetable protein), or tempeh.
For this recipe, we’re using lentils and mushrooms as our vegan “meaty” base.
We’ll also be using Italian spices and flavors to bring these meatless balls to life!
How To Keep Veggie Meatballs from Falling Apart
Veggie meatballs need a dry and wet binder in order to create a stable ball.
We’re using homemade oat flour along with tomato paste to help bind these lentil meatballs.
Moreover, we need to make sure they are not too wet and not too dry. Otherwise, they’ll either fall apart or worse, feel like complete mush.
During the shaping process, the vegan meatballs will feel slightly mushy, but as they brown (either from the air-fryer, stove-top, or oven), they will firm up.
Allowing them to cool off post-cook will also help the lentil meatballs’ texture stabilize.
How To Store
Tried out this Vegan Lentil Meatballs recipe?
Vegan Lentil “Meatballs”
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 1/2 cups salted water use 1 teaspoon of salt for salted water or use broth instead
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces mushroom caps chopped
- 1 cup red onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire suace make sure it's vegan
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds toasted, see notes
- 1 cup oat flour see notes
- In a large mixing bowl, add the lentils and smash the pieces. Next, add the mushroom, onion, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and oat flour. Combine well and allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes to cool off and for the oat flour to absorb the moisture.
- Using your hands, scoop one small handful of the mixture, about the size of a golf ball. Repeat until the entire mixture has been shaped. This should yield about 35-38 meatless balls.
- To cook in an air-fryer, cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. To cook in an oven, bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. To cook on the stovetop, pour some oil into a non-stick pan and fry the lentil meatballs on all sides until browned and firm.
- Gently toss or top with pasta sauce, or serve as-is.
- When shaping the mixture into meatless lentil balls, they will be slightly sticky. That is okay, but it should be dry enough to mold into balls. If the mixture is too wet to shape, add more oat flour.
- To make oat flour, simply pour old-fashioned oats into a blender and blend until flour-like.
- Common mushrooms, mushroom caps, Bella mushrooms, or portobello mushrooms can be used in this recipe.
- Most fennel seeds are sold already toasted. If they are bright green, they are not toasted. Toasted fennel seeds will have a pale green or brown color to them. To toast them, simply heat them in a dry, non-stick pan for a few minutes.
- Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container or reusable silicone bag for up to 4 days.