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Vegan Marinara Meatballs
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?
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)
- Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
- In a small bowl stir, together flax and water. Set aside to thicken up while making meatball mixture.
- 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.
- Pulse until everything is well combined, but still slightly chunky. Add flax mixture and pulse until well incorporated.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Excerpt from Karlene Karst’s cookbook, “This Kitchen is For Dancing,” reproduced with permission from Mind Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.