Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spaghetti and Lentil balls

First, I must apologize for failing to update this blog for 8 months.  I can only imagine the horrible state I must have left all you kind readers in.  I'm sure by now you've tried all the other lentil recipes posted here countless times over and were starting to despair that nothing new awaited you.  Not true!  I am back with a delicious new recipe to tantalize your lentil-loving tastebuds, and challenge the assumption that that dish can only be made with meat.

Spaghetti and meatballs!  So wonderfully delicious, and now I will share the secret of how to make them sans meat.  The recipe is a little fussy to get everything to look just right, but I think it's worth it.

First you must start by cooking your lentils.  I kept it really simple, lentils, a bay leaf, and water to cover, bring to a boil and then simmer until soft.  When my lentils were done cooking I mixed them up a little with a fork to mash and break down some, but not all of the lentils.  I stopped here and threw the lentils in the refrigerator overnight.  If you decide not to stop here, you will need to let your lentils cool to room temperature before you put them in the meatball mix so as not to melt the cheese or cook the other ingredients.

Next, it's time to mix up the lentil balls with all the Italian meatball flavors.

I used this handy little processor.
Process in a food processor until finely chopped:

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
1/2 an onion

In a large bowl mix until well combined:
above mixture
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten

3 tablespoons dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups of the cooked lentils
The complete lentil ball mixture.

Now we make the balls!

This is the part that gets a bit fussy, but it's really not difficult.  Use an ice cream scoop with a release function to measure, and immediately deposit your lentil balls onto a greased cookie sheet.  DO NOT try and roll the mixture around like you would a regular meatball because it will make a mess.  This is a rather wet mix, so it must be handled delicately and minimally.  Also, leave a little space between your meatballs as though you are making cookies, because the balls will spread out while they cook.

Lentil balls ready for round one in the oven.

Bake the lentil balls in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Don't be disappointed!  They will have spread and flattened out and look like lentil pancakes.  This is ok, it just means to achieve aesthetic perfection we must take one more tiny step and re-shape these blasted little balls.

Showing the lentil balls who's boss.

Remove the lentil balls from the oven, grab your ice cream scoop and a spatula and show these balls once an for all who's boss.  Take each lentil ball and push into the scoop, and compress in using the spatula.  Re-release the lentil ball back onto the cookie sheet.  Voila!  It is a beautiful lentil ball once again.  Reshape  the whole tray of balls and put them in the fridge for a few hours to help them retain their shape.

Re-shaped lentil balls.

Finally it's time to heat the lentil balls
Put the balls in a casserole dish (this time they can be close together) and cover generously with whatever sauce you choose to use.  Bake in a 350 degree over until warmed.  Serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

Also, I know the is formatting sloppy.  Blogger is hard to use.

And last but not least, a question for reader feedback!!!!!!! (.....crickets comments posted.....)  What are some other ethnic meatballs we could try with lentils?  Please comment with seasonings for meatballs from your culture and Spicy Lentil Candles will try them out and post a recipe!