This is such an easy red lentil meatball recipe! They are filling, spicy, and these red lentil meatballs will be a fabulous addition to your recipe box!
I’ve never made red lentil meatballs before and I’m truly kicking myself for taking so long! They are so delicious and so easy to prepare.
When it comes to vegan recipes, I am always hesitant to try and recreate meat products with vegan substitutes. With that said, these lentil meatballs are not going to have the same texture as beef or pork meatballs, so if you appreciate them as lentils, you will truly love this recipe. What I loved about these red lentil meatballs is that the edges crisped up so nicely while the inside was fluffy but still has a little textural contrast thanks to some of the lentils not being completely mashed.
Some recipes will tell you to chuck everything in the food processor and pulverize the ingredients until homogenous. I actually prefer boiling the lentils a little longer until they are almost completely soft. Then, I rinse under cold water and combine with my prepared filling ingredients. I use a wooden spoon to mash them up and then I use my hands to continue to combine the ingredients. I find that this prevents the mixture from becoming too mushy and creates that nice chewiness in the meatball.
These red lentil meatballs are a bit Turkish-inspired. I used plenty of chili pepper, red pepper flakes, and cumin to create a fragrant, aromatic meatball that paired perfectly with my cauliflower puree. It’s a filling, beautiful dish that your family – whether they’re vegan or not – will love!
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Easy Red Lentil Meatballs
- Wide pot or skillet
- Large pot
- 16 ounces dry red lentils
- 1 shallot peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon dry parsley
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds lightly crushed between your fingers
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes optional
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper plus more to taste
- ¼ cup crushed pistachios or peanuts, cashews, or walnut
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ⅔ cup panko or breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil for frying
Golden Cauliflower Puree:
- Minced parsley optional
- Red pepper flakes optional
Cook the Lentils:
- Add 5 cups of water to a large pot. Bring to boil over high heat. Add the lentils and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5-10 minutes until almost completely soft.
- Drain and rinse under cold water and wipe out the pot and return the clean pot to the stove (you will need it for the cauliflower).
Start the Cauliflower Puree:
- Fill the pot back up with water and add the cauliflower florets. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until soft. Drain and return the cauliflower to the pot and set aside.
Prepare the Lentil Meatball Spices:
- As you cook the lentils, prepare the meatball spices. In a bowl, combine the minced shallot, parsley, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin seeds, crushed red pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes (if using), panko, pistachios, and vegan mayonnaise. Use a spoon to combine all of the ingredients. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Form the Lentil Meatballs:
- Add the rinsed lentils to the bowl and use a wooden spoon or your hands to combine the mixture until it is doughy. It shouldn't be too wet or too crumbly. If it seems too wet, add a bit more panko. If it's too dry, add a bit more mayonnaise or a little oil. Taste and season again with salt and pepper.
- Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a meatball and continue on with the rest of the mixture until all of the meatballs are formed.
Fry the Meatballs:
- Heat oil in wide pot over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. You want to turn very gently. I usually use the edge of my tongs to release the meatball and turn it gently. Continue cooking until all the meatballs are browned and cooked through. Keep the meatballs warm in the oven at 200ºF as you fry the rest of them.
- Note, you may need to add more oil as you cook the meatballs. Add it in 1 teaspoon ingredients if the pan becomes too dry.
Finish the Cauliflower Puree:
- Turn the heat on the cauliflower florets to low. Add the vegan yogurt, oat milk, turmeric, garlic powder, and paprika and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely pureed and creamy. Note: If you don't have an immersion blender, just use your spoon to completely combine and mash the cauliflower a bit. It will be a bit chunky, but still delicious!
- Divide the puree between plates and arrange the meatballs on top. Garnish with more parsley and red pepper flakes, if you like. Enjoy!