We aren’t vegetarians and we don’t claim to be (though maybe one day we will). However, we do enjoy eating a lot of non-meat meals because a) meat is expensive and b) we just don’t like consuming a ton of meat–it makes us feel heavy and less energized (or something like that). So we subconsciously tend to seek out vegetarian-ish meals that are chock-full of veggies and have sources of protein besides chicken. I had pinned a recipe for Lentil Mushroom Burgers a little while back and I thought since we have time on our hands, I might give it a shot under Will’s supervision. After I began making the dish, I discovered it linked back to a previous recipe for a “meatball” version with all the same ingredients. I realized I preferred the ball shape of the original recipe…it was just more what we were feeling this week! Generally, I was not convinced of the possibility of shaping the lentils/mushrooms into patties or balls, but we can all pretend we’re skilled at certain things, right?
In the middle of cooking this dinner, when I made the decision to make the balls instead of the burgers, I realized it might be boring to just eat a ball of mushroom and lentils. Having made a few trips to Ikea recently, we’ve been enjoying grabbing a bite at their cafe and we’ve gotten their Swedish meatballs. That inspired me to quickly Google a Swedish meatball sauce recipe to drizzle over my lentil balls. Despite having too much going on in our new, smaller kitchen (I had the lentil recipe going simultaneously with Orzo Pesto Salad and the sauce), with assistance from Will, I got it all done and it wasn’t half bad! Disclaimer: we struggled to make sure there were four perfect balls for the photos-everything else crumbled immediately! (See below)
Cooking Notes for Meatballs: I chopped the mushrooms in food processor, then stirred in cooled lentils. Our food processor was too small, so that’s why I couldn’t coarsely chop them at the same time, as the original recipe suggests! Instead of using a mushroom or veggie broth, I used chicken broth because it’s the only Better Than Bouillon that we have on hand at the moment. I used a special cookie scoop I have to make the balls, so they ended up making about 18 instead of 12, which was great! It felt like we had more food 🙂
Lentil Mushroom Balls (adapted from Oh My Veggie; serves 4)
1/2 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
8 oz. white mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp Italian seasoning
S&P, to taste
Crisco, for muffin pans
Combine lentils, bay leaf, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 10 minutes (this will not cook the lentils fully, which is correct). Remove from heat, drain, and cool slightly; discard the bay leaf.
Chop the mushrooms in the food processor. Add the lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped. Begin to heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly. Stir in mushroom-lentil mixture. Cook for about 4 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly. Add red wine to the skillet and cook until evaporated. Stir in broth, soy sauce, oats, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Season with S&P to taste, and allow to cool.
While cooling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins, to be used for balls. Using a cookie scoop, shape mixture into balls and place one per muffin. Bake for 35 minutes, or until crisped at top. Serve drizzled with sauce.
Cooking Notes for Sauce: We didn’t have cream on hand so we had to use milk instead. And the original recipe called for beef broth, but again, we only had the chicken BTB.
Easy Swedish Meatball Sauce (adapted from All Recipes; serves 4)
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
1 cup milk
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
Whisk together broth, milk, and soy sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in black pepper and rosemary sprigs, combining well. Stir in flour to thicken, then lower heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve over lentil mushroom balls.