Tuscan Vegetarian “Meatballs”

Meatlessballs BrighterLooking for some more protein in your dinner? Disappointed and hungry after a vegetarian “meatball” stuffed with breadcrumbs and zucchini? Our ball of Tuscan flavors contains a good hit of protein and is substantial enough to keep you going through the evening. Serve it with a sauce of your choosing or use our tomato compote as a starter and add a splash of broth or wine, or both, to make it more saucy.

Even your biggest carnivores will like this creation. It’s filled with pesto, garlic, fennel seed, black lentils, roasted and fresh vegetables, herbs, and parmesan. Roasting an onion and yam to add to the mixture of raw vegetables helps hold all the ingredients together without breadcrumbs (we use quinoa for extra protein). If you can’t find little black lentils (grown in Washington state and often called beluga or caviar lentils), substitute French lentils–they are small, need no presoaking, and cook in 15 minutes or less.

Turn oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the yellow onion vertically and cut into ¼-½ inch lengths. Peel and cut the yam into 1 inch cubes. Spread the onion and yam on a parchment-lined sheet pan and drizzle 1-2 Tblsp olive oil on top, tossing the vegetables so they are coated. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.

While oven heats, cook the quinoa and the lentils according to directions in small separate pans.

Both cook in about 15 minutes and require 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa/lentils (lentils may take a tad more). Cover the quinoa with a lid but not the lentils as they are easy to overcook. Bring the water to an easy boil in both pans and reduce to simmer. Taste the lentils after about 12 minutes to make sure they are not getting mushy–you want them just barely done. Once the lentils and quinoa are cooked let them cool before incorporating.

Place the sheet pan with yams and onions in oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes until cooked and remove.

Chop broccoli, kale, parsley and the remaining onions into small pieces. I used a Cuisinart. They have to be small enough so the “meatball” holds together but large enough to provide color and texture. Chop the sweet peppers either by hand or in the Cuisinart, using the on-off pulse method. Be sure not to over-chop or they will become too watery. Place in a large bowl.

Once onions and yams are cooked, give the yams a light mash and chop up the onions or run both through through the Cuisinart and place in a large bowl with the chopped vegetables and parsley. Add the parmesan, pesto, spices and mix together with a large fork or spoon.
Meatless Meatball IngredientsYou will be able to taste and adjust the seasoning at this point before you add the eggs. Remember the Tuscan “meatball” will be paired with another sauce so it’s flavors don’t need to be overpowering. Add two to three eggs, depending on how moist your pesto and other ingredients are, and combine.

Using two hands, form into 2-3 inch balls (pressing the mixture together) and place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Mine are usually about 2 ½ inches–they don’t shrink like regular meatballs.
Meatless Meatball trayedBake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then lower temperature to 350 for twenty minutes (do not turn them over). The “meatballs” are done once they hold together. You may brush the tops with olive oil after 20 minutes to create a gloss. Let them sit for a few minutes before serving.
Meatless Meatballs in text

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