Note: I like to reserve about a 1/4 cup of the lentils and add them after pulverizing the rest of the mixture for added texture. This step is optional.
This might be my favorite recipe yet. I attempted to make these twice before I found the texture and flavor I originally envisioned, but I'm so happy with the final product. These lentil-mushroom-balls hold together very well and they have a really great earthy flavor. Not only do I love them, but I fed them to vegetarians as well as meat-eaters and they were loved by all. They're filling and robust and 'meaty' in all the right ways. You must make these, asap.
They were given a positive review the first time around even though there were plenty of things I noticed needed improving (and a few ingredients missing). The friend who tried the first attempt is not a vegan and actually quite the opposite, but still enjoyed them. The second attempt was so close to what I wanted that I almost posted the recipe anyway. I decided to hold off, knowing I could do better. One more attempt and it was clear I had a winner before they were even finished baking. The texture was exactly what I wanted and they held their shape. The final attempt also had quite a few taste-testers. This time, I had an array of opinions from a vegetarian, a mostly vegetarian, and a meat-eater who attended a program at a culinary school. They were well-received by all and I decided that I had completed what I had originally envisioned with this recipe.
I usually make my faux-meat patties and the like with a legume such as black beans or chickpeas, but I wanted to give lentils a shot. I wanted to use lentils for the flavor they provide, but I wasn't sure how well they would work in a 'meatball' texture-wise. This is where my favorite kind of fungus came in to help. The mushrooms play a few important roles in these bad boys. They help maintain the shape and texture, and they also add umami flavor, which is enhanced by the soy sauce. The mix of herbs keeps them very earthy and peppery, which is why I prefer to pair them with pesto. It completes the flavor profile I'm looking for.
Another slight alteration I made from the way I typically make faux-meat patties is the use of oats instead of bread or panko crumbs. This made a huge difference in the way they held together and in the texture. I think I might start using them.. forever. All around, I'm very satisfied with the way these turned out. Baking them adds a nice, slightly crusted outside and they don't fall apart when cut into. The flavor is deep and hearty, perfect for this time of year. They can be made to go on pasta or eaten alone with pesto. They're filling and tasty and I hope you enjoy them as much as I (and my four taste testers) did.
Lentil Mushroom Meatlessballs
My name is Ellen Jane and I spend my free time doing vegan experiments in my kitchen so you don't have to. Take a look around.