In my very first lentil post I mentioned that I would be revisiting some lentil flops and trying to make them right. This was definitely one of those flops. The first time I made lentil "meatballs", they were.. odd. Not outrageously bad, not completely inedible, just.. odd. They were dry, slightly strange in texture, and really just a bland vehicle for the pesto that I had topped them with. I knew they could be better. Lentils deserve to be delicious.
Let me back up and say that I don't like meat substitutes, or any food substitutes at all. If I'm eating a vegetarian meal, I want vegetables and things that actually grew out of the ground. Not some vegetarian-friendly approximation of meat. I say that these are lentil "meatballs", but I'd rather we just call them lentil balls. They hardly resemble actual meatballs once they're done, and if actual meatballs are what you're hoping for, you'll be sorely disappointed. Taken on their own merits, though, these lentil balls are surprisingly flavorful and delicious. I'm really glad that I gave lentil balls another chance, and I'll definitely be making these again in the future.
You will need:
6 cups of cooked brown lentils*
4 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
15 oz. ricotta
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 slices of bread (crusts removed), soaked in milk for 5-10 minutes
*You can leave the lentils whole or put them through a food processor, depending on the texture that you want. If you put the lentils through a food processor your final balls will have a much smoother texture. I left them whole, but I think next time I'll do half and half.
Preheat your oven to 400. Line two baking trays with foil or parchment paper.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to really mash it all up. Since these aren't real meatballs, you don't have to worry about overworking the ingredients.
Form the mixture into 2.5" balls and place them on the lined baking sheets. This recipe should make about 20 balls, give or take.
Slide the pans into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
I served these alongside of a slightly adapted version of Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Pasta (which is amazing and definitely worth making, with or without the lentil balls). The flavors were perfect together, but if I was cooking for company I would probably make a little pesto or use a tomato-based pasta sauce, only because I know this plate looks a little on the bland side. Don't let your eyes fool you, though - it's seriously satisfying.