Superb lentil vegan meatballs. Very simple. Basic recipe #zerowaste

I have to say I am proud of this recipe for a few reasons. First, it’s simple and quick, so you can prepare it as a filling breakfast. These meatballs do not need to be fried or baked — they cook in the sauce, absorbing its flavour. The recipe is also a bit zero-waste: preparing these meatballs is a great way to use up a leftover piece of bread. It is also universal and can be freely modified. Using the basic recipe, you can prepare a breakfast or dinner dish: try to make these balls for your favourite spaghetti, mashed potatoes or rice. It’s also a bit revolutionary — I remember how at the beginning of my vegan journey I failed so many times trying to prepare meatballs or burger patties. The problem was the hardness and consistency… So that took me a while. And here, with this recipe, it is completely different. Probably it’s even easier to make those meatballs too thick and hard following this recipe. And the most important thing: they are surprisingly tasty. I am really proud. Two basic ingredients, a few spices, your favourite sauce. Ladies & gentlemen, my favourite food discovery of the last weeks — the amazing lentil meatballs!

Below are the ingredients for the meatball base, but I have also added two versions with different sauces that I would recommend. After trying out this recipe I also encourage you to improvise with your own spices and other flavours! 

You will need a grinder to prepare the meatballs. An old coffee grinder should also work great.

The basic recipe for the vegan meatballs (16 small balls)

  • 100g raw red lentils (1/2 cup)
  • 100g of the bread of your choice, it can be a bread roll or just two slices of staler bread (preferably wheat bread)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper (I recommend white pepper)
  • 1 spoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oil

Vegan meatballs option number 1

  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 2 pinches of nutmeg

Vegan meatballs option number 2

  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 1 tsp of sweet pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder

Sauce, option number 1 – white, sunflower seeds sauce

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp of apple or wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 2 tbsp of chopped dill

Sauce, option number 2 – red, tomato sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few leaves of fresh herbs: basil, oregano or thyme
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 250ml canned tomatoes or tomato passata 
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of chilli
  • A few tablespoons of water
  • optional: yeast flakes

For serving: favourite lettuce leaves / slice of bread / cooked or baked potatoes / rice or grain of your choice

1. Grind the lentils in a grinder. It doesn’t have to be lentil flour — slightly larger pieces should be OK.

2. Tear the bread into smaller pieces and pour warm water over it. After a while, squeeze out most of the liquid. We want a wet, flexible bread pulp.

3. Mix the ground lentils with bread, oil and all of the spices from option number 1 or 2. Knead the meatball mix with your hands.

4. With wet hands, roll small meatballs. 

5. Place the meatballs in the sauce and cook covered for 20 minutes. Stir them halfway through so that they don’t stick to the bottom. The sauce will thicken. If necessary, add a little bit of water.

Sauce number 1 – white sunflower seeds sauce

1. In a pot, fry the onion in olive oil for about 3 minutes.

2. Grind the sunflower seeds in a coffee grinder. Add the sunflower seed flour, a glass of water and vinegar to the fried onion.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Now the sauce is ready for the meatballs. At the very end of cooking, add some chopped dill.

Sauce number 2 – red tomato sauce

1. Fry the garlic and fresh herbs in olive oil for a minute.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt and a pinch of chilli.

3. Now the sauce is ready for the meatballs. If necessary, thin it with some water or a small portion of tomatoes. Optionally, you can add a handful of spinach or baby beet leaves.