I’d like to find the equivalent of a steakhouse for vegetarian food. Instead of waxing rhapsodic about the restaurant’s aging room, servers would talk euphorically of gardens, soil, and the latest rainbow of produce pulled fresh from the earth. The “side dish” category would be completely rethought. Veggie- and legume-based dishes like these easy Lentil Meatballs would move from menu page 3 to the front-page nightly special.
Although I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, I have a deep love and appreciation for vegetables. It’s easy for me to prepare them at home—you’ll find a big pan of simply roasted mushrooms, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts in our oven almost every night of the week—but when I go out, I’m often disappointed by how much of an afterthought the vegetables seem. Even when restaurants do have a decent selection of vegetables, they are usually deep fried, slathered in cream, or similarly disguised via butter and cheese.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that deep-fried Brussels sprouts or garlicky, buttery mushrooms are not delicious, but I am saying that vegetarian and vegan recipes can hold their own as the principle of a plate. Case in point: today’s Lentil Meatballs.
I’ve long been a lover of legumes, which, if we want to get scientific, include (per Wikipedia) “a plant or its fruit or seed in the family Leguminosae.” You might know them better as ingredients that include, among others, chickpeas, peanuts, and today’s superstar, lentils.
Lentils are fiber and protein powerhouses. While not technically a vegetable, they are an excellent resource in vegetarian and vegan cooking, because the lentils make vegetarian dishes extra hearty and satisfying, no meat required. They are also easy to make, budget friendly, and can be adapted to a wide range of cuisines and styles.
Today’s Lentil Meatballs are exactly the sort of dish I’d envision in my star vegetarian restaurant. They pack so much flavor and are so filling that your thought won’t be “Where’s the meat?” but rather “Can I have a second helping?”
To give the Lentil Meatballs lots of flavor, I cooked them in Simple Truth Vegetable Broth, which I purchased at Pick ‘n Save, my local Wisconsin grocery store. Simple Truth is Pick ‘n Save’s new line of minimally processed, affordable products, and I’ve enjoyed partnering with the brand to create new recipes that highlight them, these Lentil Meatballs included.
Once the lentils are cooked, making these easy Lentil Meatballs is a