It’s holiday party time, a.k.a. potluck season, at least when you work in food-focused groups as I do. This week, I had a mighty successful cookie swap at my culinary centre job, and last night I was at the potluck party for the shared office space of Sustain Ontario (where I intern), Not Far From The Tree, Local Food Plus, and Meal Exchange. Very impressive spread, ladies and gents – we had pumpkin curry, festive couscous, candied nuts, real meatballs, fresh rolls, salami wedges, spinach pie, raw vegan chocolate balls, and much more. Not to mention all of that glorious cheese – I hope someone is eating the leftovers for lunch.
For the occasion, I wanted to try out a recipe that I’d had on the backburner for a while: lentil & brown rice ‘meat’balls. Since devouring the lentil salad Gillian brought to our food swap, the wee legumes have made a triumphant return to my cooking. I noticed that I was increasing my dairy intake to get enough protein, but I wanted to diversify and modify that dependency with something simple. So spoonfuls of lentils have been tossed into my soups, salads, and pasta sauces over the past few weeks. Versatile and tasty – my kind of ingredient.
I found this recipe for vegan gluten-free ‘meat’-balls, which seemed like a good recipe to test out for Harvest Noon, something to add to our list of non-stew-or-soup mains. While it doesn’t do the job of highlighting local foods, the recipe is a good base for a winter lunch. I can take no credit for this recipe as I followed the recipe on The Gluten-Free Vegan to a tee (which is rare for me). Oh, except for the onion powder – a reasonable exclusion. Another difference is that I describe alternative directions that made the process easier with the equipment at hand. I served the ‘meat’-balls with passata (strained tomatoes) for a nice light sauce with a little sweetness. In order to work in some local produce, I’ll be baking some apple sauce to accompany the leftovers.
- ½ cup cooked lentils
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup gluten-free rolled oats
- ⅓ cup unsalted hulled sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Add the rice, lentils and sunflower seeds to the food processor. Pulse chopper to pulverize the ingredients. (PULVERIZE!!)
3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Pour into the food processor and combine well. Pulse chopper more, until there are no longer any whole lentils or seeds. (See note below).
4. Ball-making time. Wet your hands so that the mixture won’t stick as much. Using about a tablespoon of the mixture per sphere, form 16-20 balls. Place on baking sheet.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once halfway through. You don’t want to lose any burnt bottoms to the pan!
6. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes to let them firm up. After waiting, dig in!
Note: THIS GETS THICK. Granted my food processor could be much much better, this mixture is simply a dense sticky mass that will challenge many a motor. So the food processor gave me a good start, but it would be better to go in stages and mix together that way. I ended up moving the mixture to a large bowl and using my immersion blender. This was effective even if the texture was a bit chunkier than it was supposed to be. I don’t mind the occasion rogue unblended rice grain or lentil. As long as it was on the ingredient list and it won’t cut my mouth like a bay leaf, then we’re good.
Serve the little spheres on pasta or on their own with a sauce or dip.
They look like regular meatballs! What’s the texture like?
Thanks for commenting! They really are convincing doppelgangers, aren’t they?
How to describe the texture, an all-important concern when it comes to vegan & gluten-free cooking…
The surfaces browned very nicely and have a hearty flavour because of that. There’s a definite firmness to them but they aren’t crunchy (as long as you don’t overbake them!). The interiors are moist but not pasty, and the occasional whole sunflower seed adds nice variety to the texture. Think of it as a chunky falafel in that way. I’m going to add two more close-up pictures to give you a better view.