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Thursday
Dec292011

LENTIL "MEATBALLS" IN LEMON PESTO



I cleaned up all the holiday remnants on Monday. I made piles of what needs to be returned, boxed up the decorations, and dumped our brittle wreath and miniature tree. No offense to you Christmas cheerleaders, but it all becomes a bit much for me - the lists, the toffee, the spending and the formalities. It honestly was a wonderful day, but I think this year, more than ever, we saw most clearly what we wanted from the celebration, or rather what we wanted to contribute to it, and I think next year will look different.

My haste to clean up is a personality trait (a vice sometimes). I like things to be moving forward, to be improving and growing, and the New Year's holiday commemorates that. I made a date with Hugh last year to discuss our resolutions for the sake of accountability and it may be one of the highlights of my marriage to date. You can have a list of three or thirty things that you'd like to take note of as we dance right into 2012, but having some accountability - a person who loves you to listen - makes the list worth making. Last year I scribbled down intentions to master roasting a whole chicken, get certified to teach pilates, save a bit of money for a down payment and have chisled arm muscles. The answers are yes, not yet, yes and errr, working on it? But the point is that I wrote them down, shared and revisited the list and I think it's an exercise worth doing (It may not give you chisled arm muscles but it's good for the spirit).

I really love writing letters. I couldn't write a scholarly essay in college worth reading but I LOVE personal letters. An item on my list this year is to communicate compliments or positive thoughts to people as they cross my mind. I want to send letters of affirmation to friends, or post cards to acquaintences just to say, "I really enjoy your blog" or, "You are super easy to talk to and I like it." Same goes for my husband, to remind him how I appreciate how he always make me laugh, or a note to my family. We'll call them love letters, and I plan on roping Hugh into this because I think men are even more hesitant to compliment each other. I started by writing a letter to Jennie, a woman in the food blogging world who lost her husband suddenly earlier this year (you may remember or participated in "A Pie for Mikey"). I thought of her recently and wanted to write her a letter. Maybe it's weird, because we don't know each other, but I am another woman who can't imagine coping with that kind of loss, so I figured I'd say hi.

The recipe below is one from her site that I've tweaked around a bit for my taste. It's nice to have the little nuggets in the fridge to dip in the pesto sauce for an afternoon snack. I haven't had them with marinara yet, but I imagine that'd be nice as well.

There will be celebrating with close friends this weekend and hopefully another date to discuss resolutions with my beloved.

May the new year exceed your expectations and challenge you.



LENTIL "MEATBALLS" // Serves 4, Makes 18 small balls
Meatball recipe adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen

The sauce I made is less a pesto and more a dressing, as the lemon juice adds quite a bit of acid to it. I thin mine with a bit of water, but if you like it thicker, simply don't add it. Adjust to your personal taste.

In honor of lightening up post-holiday, I like them as is, maybe on some sauteed greens. I don't feel that their "meatball" title necessitates noodles. Anyway, those are decisions I'll leave up to you.

2 Cups Cooked Lentils
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 Cup Ricotta
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Fennel Seed, crushed
2 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
Hefty Pinch of Dried or Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Each Sea Salt and Pepper
2/3 Cup Breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably)

Lemon Pesto Sauce

1 Clove Garlic
1/4 Cup Pinenuts
Zest and Juice of one Meyer Lemon
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Cup Packed Basil Leaves
1/4 - 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. Water to thin



In a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parlsey, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.

For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.

Preheat the oven to 400'. Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1'' round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well. If it seems pretty wet and it falling apart, stir in another Tbsp. or two of breadcrumbs until the ball with stay together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don't need lots of space between, they won't spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil.

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly.
Serve with your favorite noodles, on a bed of sauteed greens, or simply on their own with a nice drizzle of the pesto sauce.

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Reader Comments (126)

These look delish! I'm going to try them with beans instead since my son is allergic to lentils.... Thanks for sharing.

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwina

YUM! These look great and refreshing, I am absolutely making them this week. Also, eating lentils for the new year is good luck. Happy New Year!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabrielle

This looks delicious, I'm trying it. First lentil meatballs I'll have!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBryanP

Lentil meatballs...genius!!! I am so trying this!!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

DELICIOUS! Made them last night, everyone loved them. Thanks for all your great recipes!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie

Does it matter what kind of lentils you use?

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterduetoprivacy

What a very moving and inspiring post. Happy New Year to you - I look forward to reading and viewing more often in 2012. These lentil balls will please the whole family (veggie & non-veggie).

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally - My Custard Pie

made these last night and LOVED them. next time i'll double the sauce and serve it with whole-wheat pasta. happy new year!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I just made a lentil type "meatball" recently...but with the lemony pest, that would have been a fun addition!
Happy New Year, and I hope your date to discuss resolutions went well :)

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMagic of Spice

I completely understand what you mean about the holidays just getting to be all a bit much. With large families on both sides, my hubby and I look forward to Boxing Day when we take our girls up to a lakefront cabin in the Okanagan and decompress. It's a lovely way to finish and start a year and it's become our tradition over the last five years. Wishing you all the best for 2012. Hope you made that resolution list with your husband!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStay-At-Home-Chef

BTW, I love your blog, your photography and your recipes!

I also love what you said about saying/writing things to people when you feel them. To many times we have the intention to say something nice or do something nice for someone but then we get sidetracked or insecure and we end up not doing it. I have been stepping out of my comfort zone lately and reaching out a bit more to new & old friends, complimenting people more and even just saying hi to everyone I see on the running trails and it has made my life so much more enjoyable as well as theirs. We have to remember that were all here together sharing this earth and that were all sisters and brothers. It's better to spread love than to spread hate.

Anyway, I love your post :)

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjackie @ marin mama cooks

So pleased to have discovered your blog. Your pictures are gorgeous. I can't wait to try out this lentil recipe. And thanks for including info regarding how long things will keep.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Dawson Robertson

[...] lentil meatballs look so yummy and [...]

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfriday love list |

These might just be the ticket for Bob...and MOI of course. I'll try these next week! RE: your comments - the whole letter writing/note writing is a lost art. I applaud you for your desire to create nice memories for those you encounter. Excellent!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNellie Ann Strange

Wow, this recipe looks so interesting - I have always shied away from mixing ricotta with lentils, but I think citrus could really tie them together beautifully!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

I love the idea of sharing resolutions with someone else. It does create accountability. Its sounds like a random example, but when I don't want to work out I put on my workout clothes and then I feel guilty if I don't at least use them. I feel like telling someone about your resolutions creates a similar gut feeling, especially for those of us with a little competitive edge.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHayley

What a lovely post. I think your ideas for the New Year are wonderful and inspiring (I too would love to write more and share more loving words). A delicious recipe also. Many thanks!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbhavani

What a wonderful idea. I love lentils but my fam wrinkles their nose at them. I bet if I turned them into 'meatballs' they would love them. Can't wait to try them with this pesto!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGwen @SimplyHealthyFamily

a healthy meal to start off the New Year!

Amazingly fresh and nutrient-rich recipe. LOVE it. Thank you for this, what a perfect Saturday afternoon meal.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel | Minneapple Pie

oh golly, i've never had a lentil meatball, but can practically taste these, just in the reading of them. next time i've a bowl of leftover lentils, i do believe their fate is clear...

January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermolly

[...] A small portion of the lentil “meatballs” from the recipe at Sprouted Kitchen, with Mike’s own pesto sauce. He didn’t have any basil on hand, so he made a pesto out [...]

This looks fantastic!!!!! oooohh can't wait to try
thanks!!

January 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdiana

I had to come back as I realized I'd not left a comment here to say ... my good gracious how yum these look. must try soon.

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertara

Thanks for the lovely post. It's great to be reminded how good it feels to be positive and say nice things to others. So, thanks for the wholesome, great tasting recipes you post and for giving us your thoughts.

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

Thanks for the lovely post and reminding us how good it feels to be positive and say nice things to others. So, thanks for the wholesome and greate tasting recipes and for sharing your thoughts.

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

I made this for dinner tonight...It was sooo delicious! The pesto takes the meatballs to the next level. Thanks for sharing!

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

These are insanely good! Thank you!

January 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlindsay

[...] week I tried making three new things - roasted broccoli and cheddar soup, lentil balls with lemon pesto (sounds gross, actually was quite delicious), and my very first pie from scratch. [...]

January 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdibles « Gossycrafts

Your photos are amazing, and this recipe looks delicious!

~ Tiffany

Transfer of Health
http://www.transferofhealth.com" rel="nofollow">Healthy Living and Recipes

January 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany Youngren

[...] cuisine comes through in her blog on vegetarian eats. In breathtaking photos, she captures the beauty of basil and cauliflower, inspiring even meat lovers to try their hand at dishes like crusted butternut [...]

WOW - these look simply amazing! I am definitely putting this recipe on the fridge to make this week!

these look really really good sara!!!!!!!

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercydney morris

Oh. My. Goodness. I made this for dinner the other night over whole wheat penne, and it was delicious! I want to make these and just keep them as snacks. They reminded me sort of falafel, which is weird, but I just couldn't get enough. I'm making them to take to a party next week and I'm sure they will be a hit!

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa Sofia

[...] Lentil “meatballs” in lemon pesto from Sprouted Kitchen [...]

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdult Food |

These look so yummy! I'm wondering if you have suggestions for good non-dairy subs for the cheese? I don't want to make these w/o a good replacement for the cheese. Thanks!

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Delicious!

Made a tomato, garlic & ricotta sauce, dumped it over the cooked lentil "meatballs" and back into the oven: YUM!

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCha

@Sarah - I knew someone would ask me this!
I can't attest to it's success, but I'm thinking you could use some of the non-dairy cream cheese (trader joes has a good one), and thin it out with some almond or rice milk. Just let it come to room temperature and whisk it with the liquid. I'm not sure if you own nutritional yeast, but it often gives vegan foods a "cheesy" flavor, so if you have some, throw in a generous pinch to the mix as well. I find the mixture pretty forgiving, so try this and report back if you do.

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

These look so delicious. I can't wait to try!

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexi

The lemon pesto sauce looks fab!

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkale @ tastes good to me!

[...] 1/2t.  Maple syrup can be subbed for honey.To round this meal out, I made Sprouted Kitchen’s Lentil "Meatballs".These are going to become a staple around here. Incredible flavor + texture.I made a few [...]

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterveggie coconut curry « t

[...] Lentil Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash [...]

has anyone tried freezing them?

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarahD

These look delicious! I was just eyeing the beet and bulgur meatballs in Tender and wondering how to make them vegetarian. Love the addition of lemon in the pesto - I've been making a broccoli raab pesto with lemon zest and walnuts and enjoy the way the lemon zest perks things up. I will have to make these for my vegetarian sweetie. And it goes without saying, but your photos and site design are just exquisite.

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlanna

I can't wait to make these. I'm pretty much drooling over here.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria @ Orchard Bloom

[...] Sprouted Kitchen, Lentil “Meatballs” in Lemon Pesto a lighter take on Jennie’s recipe which was well loved by us last winter but the deep frying, [...]

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Little Yellow Book «

[...] lentil “meatballs” would be delightful with some wilted kale and tomato sauce, perhaps with a scattering of freshly [...]

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergettin’ busy in the kitc

[...] saw this recipe for “meatballs” formed from lentils about a month back at Sprouted Kitchen and knew I wanted to try it.  Because I am a huge sucker for meatballs with polenta, I decided to [...]

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLentil and Ricotta “Meat

I made these today and WOW is all I can say. They turned out amazing and I love the lemon pesto as well. Great recipe! This one is definitely making it to my list of favorite recipes.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjackie @ marin mama cooks

[...] “Meatballs” in Lemon [...]

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