Meatballs and sauce were always one of my favorite comfort foods that my mom would make as I was growing up.
Taste memories tend to be some of the strongest of the associative memories we make, as they capture all five senses. It tends to not only be about the sensory quality, but the nostalgia of the family experience, being nourished and the symbolism that's been created from this.
Luckily, those food memories are held within the flavor and the texture of the food, both of which can be almost identically replicated with plant-based foods.
Here I whipped up the most delicious (vegan/gluten-free) lentil meatballs with tomato sauce over blanched kale just when I needed a little extra comfort in my day. As expected, this still gave me all the feels (so I ended up having about 3x this much).
I can't wait for you to try this recipe out!
Time: 50 min (15 min prep, 30 min cook, 5 min cool)
Servings: 4-6 (~42 medium size balls)
2 cups of cooked green lentils, cooked in veggie broth
1 flax egg (1 T ground flax + 2.5 T water: mix together and set aside for 2-3 min)
1 cup fresh basil
1 T nutritional yeast (+ 4 T for coating) (aka nooch)
1 T dried Italian herbs blend
1 T tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
10 garlic gloves, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Dallop of tomato sauce of choice
Cook lentils (I pressure cooked mine) and allow to cool.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee onion and garlic in a smidge of coconut oil.
Add lentils, sautéed onion and garlic, fresh basil, dried Italian herbs, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt and pepper to a food processor/high speed blender.
Pulse a few times to allow for even mixing, but leave some texture.
Roll mixture into even sized balls.
Roll formed balls in nutritional yeast to fully coat.
Place all balls onto cast-iron pan with a smidge of coconut oil and heat over stove. Allow for all sides to lightly brown by continually flipping.
Place pan into oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on browning preference.
Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy over pasta, greens, on a sandwich, you name it!
Make sure you dallop (or ya know, slather) tomato sauce on top and add an extra sprinkle of nooch for all the warming hearty Italian food feels.
*These balls are also tasty cold (in my opinion).