Lentil & mushroom meatballs that are vegan and grain-free! High in protein and low in calories (10 grams protein, 149 calories per 4 meatballs), they are also nut-free, very high in fiber, and can be made without oil.
Vegan Ground Beef Meatballs
Given all of the cookie recipes I post here on Power Hungry, you might think desserts comprise all of my meals.
Not all of them :).
For example, I love a good meatless meatball, like my Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs. Pair them with noodles or zoodles, tuck into submarine sandwiches, or serve straight up as a snack or appetizer.
Nutritional Benefits of the Meatballs
You’ll fall in love with their taste and texture, as well as the fact that they are:
- High in protein (almost 10 grams for 4 meatballs)
- Very high in fiber
Ingredients for the Mushroom Lentil Meatballs
The ingredients for these meatballs are minimal (and frugal), too.
Here’s what you will need: uncooked lentils, mushrooms, flaxseed meal, and onion, coconut flour, dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence, nutritional yeast, garlic, a bit of olive oil (I have an option in the notes for no oil, if needed), salt & pepper.
How to Make the Meatballs
Begin by cooking the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover the lentils by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer for 10 minutes.
You’re aiming for mostly, but not entirely, cooked lentils. They should be soft, but still have a bit of bite, and definitely not falling apart.
Immediately rinse the cooked lentils under cold water (to stop further cooking) and drain. Place the lentils in a food processor, followed by the mushrooms (cut these into pieces), nutritional yeast, and flaxseed meal. I don’t recommend a blender; it can over-process the meatball mixture.
The mushrooms and nutritional yeast add so much umami flavor to the meatballs. The former also helps to keep the texture of the meatballs from being dense. Nobody needs dense meatballs.
Pulse the whole mélange until it is chopped to a “meaty” texture (see below). It does not (and should not) be completley uniform in texture, but most of the lentils should be broken down.
Be sure to stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl several times so that the mixture is evenly chopped.
Ok, one more step before shaping and baking the meatballs. The extra time spent making these is well worth it, trust me.
Time to deepen the flavor of the meatballs with aromatics. Cook a medium onion (chopped) in 1 tablespoon olive oil until it is soft, about 5 minutes. If you cannot/do not eat oil, I have an option for you in the notes.
Next, add 3/4 cup (175 L) water, along with the chopped lentil-mushroom mixture, 4 cloves garlic (you can use garlic powder if pressed for time), Italian herbs, salt and pepper.
***Update 5/1/2019: Important Note***Adding the water at this stage allows you to cook over medium-high heat, to brown (and deepen the flavor) of the ingredients in the meatballs, without scorching and drying out the meatballs. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes longer until slightly browned and much of the liquid has been absorbed. The mixture should be thick and meaty, not wet. If it is still wet, cook several minutes longer (if they are too wet, they will not be very firm after baking).
The mixture should look fairly dry (see below), but will still be slightly moist.
Next, stir in 2 tablespoons of coconut flour. Rolled oats are often used to absorb moisture and act as a binder for meatless meatballs. Flaxseed meal handles much of the binding in this recipe, while coconut flour absorbs much of the moisture (while still keeping the meatballs tender). It also contributes a slightly springy texture, making them taste a lot like their meaty name.
Shape & Bake the Meatballs
Finally, time for some meatball shaping. I used a medium sized cookie scoop (I had to sneak another reference to cookies in here) to create meatballs that were about 1 and 1/4-inches (3.175 cm).
Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and the surface of the meatballs looks somewhat dry, like so:
Serve immediately (e.g., with marinara sauce, noodles, zucchini noodles, etc.) or cool completely and store for future use.
Happy Meatless Monday, everyone!
More Easy, Plant-Based Meat Recipes to Try: