Wednesday, February 6, 2019

lentil meatballs + coconut curry sauce

Coconut curried lentils is one of my all time favorite meals. Along the same theme, with a different method and texture, another variation was born. Which is good because there are only so many nights you can eat a lentil stew with brown rice. Don't get me wrong, I could literally live on lentils. But finding new and fun ways to eat these little nutrient power houses is a serious obsession.

I have made vegan meatballs before using white beans and bread crumbs with a classic marinara sauce and zucchini noodles, drooling yet? You can check out that recipe here. These lentil meatballs are next level. They are perfect for meal prep, you can cook them all and throw them in the fridge to put on salads, in wraps, or in this case smothered in coconut curry sauce and served with greens and brown rice for a complete dinner. Another option is to roll the balls but keep them raw and throw them in the freezer for a quick but rather impressive midweek dinner later on. Get creative with the sauces and serving suggestions and let me know how yours turn out!

lentil meatballs
  • 3 cups cooked lentils (I cook my own french green lentils with water and salt)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil for cooking ~ 1 Tbsp

For this recipe I cooked my own lentils but it would work fine with canned lentils too. The consistency may vary so be prepared to add either a bit of water (1 or 2 Tbsp) if its too dry, or some sort of flour if its too wet. Coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour are both excellent choices given that a small amount will absorb a lot of moisture. But any kind of flour, almond meal, more flax meal, or even breadcrumbs would do the trick.

In a food processor add the garlic and walnuts, process to chop, this will ensure you aren't left with any big chunks of either. Add the lentils, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until almost completely smooth, scraping down the sides when needed. At this point only a few full lentil should be detectable. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the flax meal, nutritional yeast, and finely chopped celery and parsley. This is when you may notice if your mixture is too wet, or too dry. Adjust accordingly as you fold to combine.

The consistency you are looking for should be sticky enough to hold together in a ball, but not too wet that it doesn't hold it's shape.

Roll into balls, about gold ball size or smaller. In a pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the lentil balls and lightly fry on a few sides, using tongs or a fork to rotate throughout the process. Set the balls aside to make the sauce, if using the same pan for the sauce, place them on a separate plate.

coconut curry sauce
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/2 cup water
This curry sauce is irresistible! Every curry powder will have a slightly different combination of spices, but with added ginger, garlic, and turmeric, you can't really go wrong. 
Heat the olive oil and add the onions and minced garlic to sauté. After a couple minutes add the grated ginger and turmeric and the curry powder. Spices are always better after being toasted so rolling the curry powder around with the onions and garlic will really deepen the flavor. 

Add the can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring the sauce back to a simmer. If the thickness is to your liking, its time to add the balls back in. If not, simmer until desired consistency. Heat the meatballs in the sauce for a few minutes, garnish with fresh herbs, either more fresh parsley or as pictured here, fresh cilantro, and serve.

Pictured here is a half batch of the lentil meatballs + a whole batch of the coconut curry sauce. There is plenty of sauce for all of the meatballs but it is fun to split it up into two meals, maybe with a different sauce? We had this for dinner one night with greens and brown rice, then cooked up another batch of the sauce to bring the rest of the balls to a dinner party to enjoy tapas style. Have fun with this one and I'd love to hear your feedback!

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