Since my garden is on some what of a hiatus right now, cooking with whatever I choose will have to do! And I must say… it is kind of fun! There can be a good deal of pressure after just harvesting entire earth boxes of scallions, arugula, and peppers. So much work must be done to take advantage of this fresh & delicious produce. So over the winter, I will be cooking, what ever I feel like Kind of…I will still be using winter produce as much as I can of course. It is all about seasonality after all! That is what makes it exciting, and challenging. But now I am going to cook with one ingredient that I just can’t get enough of: LENTILS. They are the vegetarians’ dream come true. Packed with protein and versatility, I would eat them in place of meat any day! So to start out the new year, here is a recipe I found for a vegetarian lentil ball.
Vegetarian Lentil Balls
2 cups lentils
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces Button Mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.
Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4-inch of space between the balls and place them in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.
Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.
Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
Now the possibilities are nearly endless!
I had more than I needed, so I froze many of them to be used at a later date. Quite convenient!
I combined them with a marinara sauce for an appetizer…
I tossed them with Rotini Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, sautéed spinach, olive oil and Parmesan cheese…
Just a few options! They really are a great thing to have on hand. And much more nutritious!
2013: Year of the Lentil. More to come next week