Perfect with spaghetti or as a meatless appetizer, these vegetarian meatballs use red quinoa, lentils, and hemp seeds for great flavor and texture.
By Phoebe Lapine
I developed this quinoa-lentil vegetarian meatballs recipe for an event I hosted earlier this fall.
These veggie meatballs are like little fiber piñatas that your gut bacteria can’t wait to crack open and feast upon. Not only are they packed with quinoa, lentils, shallots and herbs, but they’ve also got a handful of hemp seeds instead of breadcrumbs! The recipe makes two dozen, so consider freezing a portion for more desperate empty-fridge times. You may end up eating them on the couch (it’s way too cold to leave my apartment at the moment). But I guarantee you will feel better afterwards than any indulgent red meat or sweet confection combination.
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅓ pound aged Manchebo cheese or Parmesan, cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup tightly packed parsley leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large shallot
- 3 cups cooked lentils (from 1 cup dry, see note)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup dry, see note)
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and paprika until combined.
- In a food processor, pulse the Manchego until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the egg mixture.
- Add the parsley, garlic, and shallot to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Add the lentils to the food processor and pulse until a coarse paste. Transfer to the mixing bowl along with the quinoa and hemp seeds. Fold the meatball mixture together until combined.
- With clean hands, form the quinoa-lentil mixture into 1-inch balls (you can use a tablespoon to portion) and arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets ½ inch apart. You should get 2 dozen mini meatballs.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve over your favorite spaghetti and tomato sauce. Or even better, the simple romesco sauce linked above!