Thank you to my friend Cynthia for recommending these vegetarian meatballs (yes I know that is a contradiction!) They are simple to make, especially if you use tinned lentils, and make a great, wholesome family meal when combined with tomato sauce and pasta. Cynthia also likes to eat them with potatoes or rice. You could buy shop-bought tomato sauce or make your own by frying a clove of garlic, 4 torn anchovies and some parsley/basil or dried herbs in olive oil until the anchovies are dissolved, and then adding some chopped tinned tomatoes/fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmering for a few minutes. You can fry the meatballs but I prefer to bake them as you can leave them to it! The recipe takes about 15 mins to prepare and up to 20 mins to cook (if baking).
Ingredients (serves 4)
200g dried or tinned lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/crushed
Optional – 1/2 chilli, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g ricotta or cream cheese e.g. philadelphia
30g breadcrumbs (I just whizz bread up in a blender)
50g finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Cook the lentils if dried/open and drain the tinned lentils. Whizz in a blender. Add the onion, garlic and chilli, ricotta/cream cheese, breadcrumbs, parmesan, seasoning and mix. Bind the whole mixture together with egg, and add a little olive oil if it is too dry. You might need to get stuck in with your hands! (The mixture can be used straight away, or covered with cling film and kept in the fridge overnight/for a few hours until needed). Form the mixture into balls, and fry on medium heat, or bake in the oven at gas mark 6/220 degrees for about 20 mins , turning them so that they brown evenly.
Serve in tomato sauce with pasta, rice or potatoes.