Recipe developed & contributed by Maureen Gualtieri
The “Italian” in this recipe comes from the traditional meatball shape, and the basil, oregano, and tomato notes; the “Canadian” is all DFC’s Maple Crunch mustard! The combo is sweetly satisfying, crunchy and high in protein — perfect for the comfort-food needs of the fall days to come. Since lentils are lower in fat than ground beef or other meats, these ‘balls really shine when simmered in a juicy red sauce for a minute or two, then topped on your favourite pasta. Or, turn them into hors d’oeuvres with a few party picks and a rémoulade dipping sauce made with more DFC’s Maple Crunch mustard.
Italian-Canadian Lentil “Meatballs”
(Yield: approx. 20 meatballs)
3 c. water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 c. dried green lentils
1/4 c. sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 medium egg, well-beaten
1 c. bread crumbs
2 tbsp DFC Maple Crunch mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Boil 3 c. of water, dissolve the vegetable bouillon cube in it, and set aside. In a small pot, heat 2 tbsp of your olive oil on medium low. When hot, sauté the onion and cumin together until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and stir frequently for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute.
When the tomato paste becomes fragrant, pour in 2 c. of the bouillon broth and all the lentils, and give it all a good stir. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then drop to a low simmer. Allow the lentils to cook for about 1 hour with the pot lid cocked open, stirring every once in a while. As the broth absorbs, top up periodically with the last 1 c. of broth. Once all the broth disappears and you can see the bottom of the pot when you pull a spoon through the lentils, you are good to go.
Set the lentil mixture aside to cool enough to handle with your hands. (You can even leave it in the fridge overnight if you want to make these ahead.) While this happens, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Once the lentils are cool, mash them to your desired consistency. Stir in the sundried tomatoes, oregano, basil, bread crumbs, and DFC’s Maple Crunch mustard. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Work in the egg, and then begin rolling the mixture into balls. (About 1 1/2 tbsp of mixture per ball.)
Arrange the lentil balls on your sheet pan, and drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, until outsides are crunchy and golden brown.
Serve hot, as you would a standard meatball — on top of spaghetti, in a sub, or as a party nosh!