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Lentil Balls with Tomato Sauce

A tasty vegetarian take on meatballs, these lentil balls from Little Veggie Eats are delicious served with rice, pasta, or mashed potato.

Introduction

Crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, these lentil balls are perfect for little hands to grab. Unassuming-looking, they are packed with good stuff: lentils, oats, mushrooms and carrots. The combination of plant-based protein and fibre gives a slow, steady energy release for a hearty, filling meal. With the tomato sauce they are great by themselves, or you can serve with spaghetti or some fresh bread.

I make these in a food processor, but a stick blender will work too – just chop the veggies up a little smaller.

Tip: Ideal first food (finger food)

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Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil
½ an onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 x 400g can brown lentils, drained and rinsed
½ cup/40g oats
3 closed cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
Zest of ½ lemon
1 tsp dried oregano (or a couple of sprigs of fresh)
For the tomato sauce:
1 tsp olive oil
½ an onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano (or a couple of sprigs of fresh)
fresh parsley, to serve

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C fan/400˚F and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes before turning off the heat.

While the onion is cooking, put all the other lentil ball ingredients in a food processor (or in a bowl if using a stick blender). Add the cooked onions and blend. You want the mix to have a bit of texture so don’t blend it until completely smooth.

Shape the mixture into 18 small golf ball-sized balls and put them on your baking tray. Bake the balls for about 35 minutes until they are crisp on the outside (but still soft in the middle).

While the balls are cooking make the tomato sauce. Heatthe olive oil over a medium heat in a pan and add the onion. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes until softened. Add thegarlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Then add the chopped tomato, ½ cup /120ml of water, the balsamic vinegar and oregano. Cook the mixture over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes until thickened.

Serve the balls with the sauce poured over, and a little freshly chopped parsley.

If you want to freeze or store for a later meal, keep the balls and the sauce separate (the balls will go too soft otherwise).

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