We discovered The Meatball Shop while living in New York during an internship. We were thrilled they had a vegetarian option, and our excitement continued when we tasted them. Their recipe was a well kept secret, until the release of their cookbook. Of course we tried this recipe immediately and loved it!
This is a slightly modified version of their recipe with some added heat. We added some spice but kept the other flavors there. We love serving these meatballs over risotto with a parmesan cream sauce. They are equally delicious with spaghetti, or as a meatball sub. These are so good that even your meat-eating friends will start to crave this veggie option.
Recipe modified from NYC’s The Meatball Shop*
2 cups lentils, cooked
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces Button Mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup bread crumbs
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
Add ¼ cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.
Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, Frank’s and cayenne to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 ½ inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing ¼ -inch of space between the balls and place them in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.
Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.
Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
*From the book, THE MEATBALL SHOP COOKBOOK by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow.
CAULIFLOWER PARMESAN SAUCE
Makes 6 cups
1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups vegetable stock low sodium
2 cups water
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
⅓ cup pecorino cheese, grated
In a large saucepot bring the vegetable stock and water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for 9 minutes, until tender.
In a medium saucepan toast the garlic and butter until the garlic begins to lightly brown. Do not burn the garlic or it will create a bitter taste.
When the cauliflower and garlic are finished, add to a blender with the remaining ingredients. Add ¼ cup of the stock used to cook the cauliflower.
Blend the ingredients together, slowly adding additional vegetable stock until the sauce is a smooth, creamy consistency.
Serve warm and store any additional sauce in the fridge for up to a week.
Asparagus Rissotto recipe coming soon!