Mexican Vegan Lentil Albondigas (Meatballs)
Makes 12 medium Albondigas
Lentils are highly nutritious staples that offer an array of health benefits.
Baked vegetarian and vegan meatless meatballs made with lentils are packed with Mexican flavors and perfect on top of zucchini noodles.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup chopped fresh mushrooms of your choice
1/2 Poblano or red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups cooked brown or green lentils (see note about lentils below)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (gluten free if needed)
1/4 cup old fashioned oats (certified gluten free if needed)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or a nut of your choice
1/2 of a chipotle pepper
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Marinara sauce and zucchini noodles for serving (see note below)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until softened. Add the mushrooms and pepper and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sauté another minute longer. Remove from heat.
Place the cooked lentils, onion-mushroom mixture, breadcrumbs, oats, nuts, flax meal, chipotle pepper, Mexican oregano, coriander, salt, pepper, cumin and tomato paste into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture just comes together when pressed but is still a bit chunky. Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray and place the "meatballs" into the wells. Coat balls with the spray and bake until browned and firm, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through and coating again with cooking spray. Let cool 10 minutes.
Serve with warm marinara sauce and pasta or zucchini noodles.
HOW TO COOK LENTILS
There are different types of lentils and the variety you use here makes a big difference. I like red lentils for dishes like dal and soups, as they break down and become very soft. For this recipe though, we want heartier brown or green French lentils. You can cook them yourself following the package directions and then drain and cool them. Always be sure to rinse and pick over your dried lentils for little stones and debris. If you like shortcuts, grab a package of the vacuum packed steamed lentils also available in stores and you’re good to go.
HOW TO MAKE ZUCCHINI NOODLES AKA “ZOODLES”
I use a spiralizer to make noodles out of my fresh zucchini. Zucchini noodles can be eaten raw or cooked. I like them best al dente. Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat and saute for just a couple of minutes so that the zucchini noodles are have just softened a bit but aren’t mushy. When I’m not using marinara I like to add a little garlic and salt to the pan to flavor the noodles.