It’s become a big game for me. How can I take this dish and make it meatless? How can I make it taste great, be filling, and have no meat in it? That meat eaters will happily gobble up and never even ask, “Where’s the meat?”
The funny thing about my fascination with this challenge is that I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan. I do, 2-3 times a week, eat meat. But, the meat I eat is 95% of the time is higher quality, meaning organic, non GMO feed in a happy environment. That quality, logically comes with a higher price tag that I can’t spring for often.
So, rather than buy meat that isn’t raised well (it’s a lot like putting lower quality gas in your car, if you put the higher quality gas in the car will run longer), I make meatless dishes. In the beginning it was hard, but now it’s fun. Even more fun when I’m making food for others, especially die hard meat eaters.
I love showing people they don’t need that much meat. Meat consumption is a bit crazy in America, where in other countries it can be harder to get with each meal.
These Lentil Vegetarian Meatballs are a great way to get your meatball fix in without spending too much money or settling for lower quality meat. These meatballs have lentils and mushrooms in them, so you get fiber (and fullness) from the lentils and extra veggies (because you can never have too many veggies!) from the mushrooms.
You can enjoy them like I’ve pictured them, with zoodles (gotta soak those up while they’re in season a little bit longer!) and pesto, or you can put them in regular pasta, over a bed of greens, over other grains with some sautéed vegetables, in a pita… The possibilities are endless.
Depending on how big you shape them, you can have 12-24 meatballs, which makes them perfect for meal prepping for a busy week or as party appetizers. When I’ve made it for parties, I pair it with a yogurt dipping sauce (some yogurt and spices).
Feel free to adjust the spices to be more Italian (basil, maybe some oregano) or you can push it further in the Mexican/spicy route with some cumin and other chili spices.
Whatever dish you enjoy these guys with and whatever spices or spin you take on this recipe, look at meatless dishes (or meat dishes you want to try as meatless) in a fun way, like a delicious experiment.