Date and lentil meatballs

This recipe is a variation on one I found in Jules Aron's Nourish & Glow. Jules's recipe is made with dried apricots instead of dates and served with veggie 'pasta'.

In my usual way I didn't quite have the ingredients needed so I made some adaptations and switched the apricots for dates. It worked so well I've made them over and over again since, and someone reminded me that they'd be perfect to freeze and store for lazy dinners in the future too. Such a good idea! 

I've also been talking a bit more over on Instagram about increasing my protein intake. I'm getting ready for my wedding later this year and it's making me think about adjustments I can make to my diet without doing anything extreme, but to focus on toning up rather than 'losing weight.'

Including protein in every meal and being aware of the amount I'm having is something that everyone recommended. I'm making sure my breakfast always includes protein now (I'm having my One-Stop Breakfast Box with protein powder) and really thinking about protein rich ingredients at lunch and dinner. 

When I don't want that to be meat or fish, lentils are a great alternative. I've never really been an expert at lentils and all the different types - I basically store them all together (as you can see from my pics) and cook them all in the same way! For added flavour I recommend you cook them with stock rather than just boiling water. 

Lentil meatballs The Flourishing Pantry

SERVES: Makes 10 large meatballs, or 12-14 smaller ones
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Lentil meatballs:

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup (50g) walnuts 
  • 1 cup (180g) lentils (I used green lentils, you can grab them at Buy Wholefoods Online*), cooked to packet instructions 
  • 1/2 cup (80) dates
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fried parsley
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce:

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs / Italian seasoning 

To serve:

  • Wholewheat spaghetti or pasta - 75g per portion

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside. 
     
  2. Put the dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 5-10 minutes, while you're doing the next couple of steps. 
     
  3. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium head. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat. 
     
  4. Place the walnuts in a food processor and blitz until they're broken down into small chunks. It doesn't have to be even, a few different sizes is fine! 
     
  5. Into the food processor add the cooked lentils, onion, herbs and a grind of salt and pepper to the walnuts. Drain the dates and add these too. Pulse in the processor (or do it in a bowl with a hand blender) until you have a paste but with a little bit of texture. 
     
  6. If the mixture doesn't look like it's going to hang together, add your flaxseeds a little at a time to thicken it up. To check, use your hands to form a ball of the mixture. 
     
  7. When you think the mixture is ready, scoop out a table spoon at a time and form it into balls. To make sure mine are all the same size I weigh the mixture and then use a calculator to divide it by the number of balls I want to get. But you can do it by eye just as easily. 
     
  8. Arrange the balls on the baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning at the half way point. 
     
  9. While the lentil balls are baking, make your tomato sauce. In a frying pan (you could use the same one as before) add your garlic and onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Leave to simmer over a low heat until everything is cooked through. 
     
  10. Cook your spaghetti or pasta to packet instructions. Drain and put back into the empty saucepan. Pour the tomato sauce over the pasta and stir through until well coated. 
     
  11. Serve the spaghetti in a bowl, and place 3-4 of the lentil balls onto the top of spaghetti. Top with fresh basil for a little green garnish. Enjoy! 
Lentil meatballs | The Flourishing Pantry
 
Lentil meatballs The Flourishing Pantry
 

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Date and lentil vegan meatballs The Flourishing Pantry

*Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Buy Whole Foods Online and some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you’d like to know more about Buy Whole Foods Online, please visit the Buy Whole Foods Online website for more details. Any purchases made through this/these link(s) are at no extra cost to you but give The Flourishing Pantry a small commission. Thanks!