In my hunt for recipes for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner this year, I came across one for Veggie Balls. The concept is similar to meatballs only you use lentils and vegetables in lieu of meat. They’re filling, healthy, and fun to make!
I had to improvise this recipe from The New York Times‘ Well blog 2011 collection of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes because it had mushrooms (ick!), bread crumbs (not good for Bill’s wheat allergy), and Parmesan cheese (bad for his pasteurized cow dairy allergy).
The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked up the lentils and stored them in the fridge.
The next day I chopped and sautéed all the vegetables—onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and garlic—in olive oil with thyme and salt. Parsnips were my substitute for the much-detested mushrooms, which would have been added later in the recipe.
Then I added the tomato paste and mixed it with the vegetables.
I combined the vegetables with the lentils and let the mixture cool.
Then I added the rest of the ingredients—eggs, parsley, and walnuts—substituting quick rolled oats for bread crumbs and Pecorino sheep’s cheese for Parmesan.
I even had fresh parsley still growing in my garden!
Bill helped mix it all together by hand and, after refrigerating the mixture for half an hour to set, we formed it into 24 balls.
I roasted them for 30 minutes in a very hot oven (400 degrees F) and they were ready to eat. These make a very good small plate dinner option or appetizer. They’d also be great with a marinara sauce piled on a hoagie roll like a meatball sandwich. I’m thinking the leftovers would be delicious on a pita with some Mid-Eastern condiments!