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Vegan Marinara Meatballs

By on October 27, 2019
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The first time I made these “meatballs” for my family, I made them all try to guess what the “meat” was. Even my Italian husband couldn’t believe they were from lentils and chickpeas. When I am really changing ingredients and using a lot of healthy ones, I sometimes wait until after my family tells me they like it… then I let them in on my little secrets. Anyone else do that?

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Ingredients

1½ Tbsp flax, ground
4½ Tbsp water
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, raw
½ cup old fashioned oats
2 cups canned lentils, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup onion, diced
3 garlic clove, minced, divided
1½ tsp Italian dried herb blend
1 tsp salt, divided
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp basil, dried
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes, crushed (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
  2. In a small bowl stir, together flax and water. Set aside to thicken up while making meatball mixture.
  3. In a food processor, pulse pumpkin seeds and oats until finely ground. Add lentils, chickpeas, onion, 1 minced garlic clove, Italian herb blend, ½ tsp salt, pepper, and basil leaves, if using.
  4. Pulse until everything is well combined, but still slightly chunky. Add flax mixture and pulse until well incorporated.
  5. With slightly wet hands, roll heaping spoonfuls of mixture into balls before placing on a parchment-lined baking tray. You should have about 12 golf ball-sized meatballs. Bake, flipping once halfway through baking time, until lightly browned, about 15–20 minutes total.
  6. While meatballs bake, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining 2 minced garlic cloves and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, remaining ½ tsp salt, sugar, basil, and chili flakes, if using. Allow sauce to come to a low simmer and, stirring occasionally, let sauce cook for about 8 minutes.
  7. Add cooked meatballs to sauce and let cook for 8–10 minutes over low heat. Serve over noodles, in a sandwich or on their own.
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Excerpt from Karlene Karst’s cookbook, “This Kitchen is For Dancing,” reproduced with permission from Mind Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

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