We love some Italian in our family and after going whole food plant based, I basically just took out the meat from our pasta sauce and switched to whole grain pasta. Sometimes I’ll add chopped mushrooms and kale to “beef up” (no pun intended) the nutrient density of our weekly Italian meal.
But…..sometimes I just felt like something was missing, ya know?
I really wanted some “meatballs” to kind of make our Italian night a little more filling and hearty.
So it was time to experiment with some vegan lentil meatballs! “No-meatballs” actually….
I’m not lazy exactly….just really efficient!
And if you’ve been around a while, you know I don’t do complicated or fussy recipes. As little time & steps as possible! I’m kind of a lazy cook although I prefer to call it “efficient” 🙂
So this Italian Lentil Meatball recipe will NOT disappoint in flavor and time-saver!
As always, these vegan meatballs are whole food plant based & oil free as well. And there’s a gluten-free option as well – instead of whole grain bread crumbs, use Old Fashioned oats.
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Food processor saves time making lentil meatballs
I do recommend a food processor for this recipe to blend the lentil meatball ingredients together…. otherwise you’ll have to mash by hand! A blender doesn’t work great because it’s too easy to overprocess and you want the meatballs to still have some texture.
Meal ideas for Italian Vegan Meatballs
Well, whole grain or bean pasta and marinara sauce is the obvious choice, but these vegan meatballs are great for meal prep because you can use them in many other ways as well! Double or triple the recipe to make a bunch for the week and try using them in different ways to mix things up:
- Marinara sauce & pasta (whole grain, bean, or veggie spirals)
- Salad topper
- Buddha Bowls
- Meatballs & a side of veggies
- Baked potato topper
- “Meatball” sub on whole grain bread or lettuce boats
- As a snack on the run!
How to store lentil meatballs
Lentil meatballs aren’t like real meatballs in that they will fall apart if you try to simmer them in your marinara sauce. So I recommend keeping them in a separate container in the refrigerator. Then just heat & serve on top of your pasta & sauce!
More whole food plant based recipes you might like:
- Italian Cashew Creamed Kale
- Healthy Vegan Chef Boyardee Pasta
- Easy Vegan Spinach Lasagna
- Crispy Italian Kale Chips
- Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala
- Greek Baked Falafels
Learn How to Make Delicious Plant Based Recipes that are Quick, Easy, & Cheap!
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Italian Lentil Meatballs (Vegan & Oil-Free)
- Food Processor
- 1 3/4 cups cooked lentils (brown or green) low sodium & drained
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion fresh, not frozen
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or Old Fashioned Oats for gluten free
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
- whole grain pasta, bean pasta, or veggie noodles
- marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Add all ingredients to an electric food processor. Pulse a few times until ingredients are well blended, but not pureed. Scrape down sides if necessary. Don't overprocess, the mixture should still have texture.
- Make 1"-1 1/2" round balls and place on baking sheet. How many you end up with will depend on how big you make them. I usually get around 12.
- Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack.
- Remove from oven & let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite pasta & marinara sauce and enjoy!
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