The Absolutely Perfect Lentil Loaf defines the word “favorite” for us over here, something that we always look forward to eating. We try to eat it as often as we can and in as many forms as we can! Over the next few posts I’m going to show some of my favorite ways to utilize this ultimately savory and nutritional treasure, starting with these vegan meatball subs. The standard lentil loaf recipe makes about 35 meatballs and since they freeze perfectly and are so crazy versatile, I really suggest making a double batch. This is the type of food you should be making for your loved ones, to celebrate with, because nothing will take better care of or satisfy them than this. With ~5 meatballs per sub, you’re getting 60% the RDA of fiber (which 97% of Americans are deficient in), 18 grams of healthy plant-based protein, tons of all the B vitamins, vitamin k and omegas. As tasty as they are healthy, the lentil meatballs are umami powerhouses, full of mushrooms, tomato paste, soy sauce and nutritional yeast, all things that top the charts in glutamate content.
Lentil Meatball Subs
(recipe makes 3 subs with leftover meatballs)
15 cooked lentil meatballs (recipe below)
1 baguette (about 18 inches long), sliced nearly in half (but not all the way through) and cut into 3 sections
1 jar tomato/pasta sauce of choice
optional -vegan pesto to spread on the baguette, dried oregano and red pepper flakes to top and vegan parmesan (I use homemade hemp seed parmesan)
Pour your pasta sauce into a skillet over medium heat, once slightly simmering at the cooked lentil meatballs and stir until thoroughly coated. Butter each baguette portion with pesto (optional). Spoon the lentil meatballs along with some sauce over the baguettes (I use 5 per sandwich), then dollop on the mozzarella. Put under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Top with dried oregano, red pepper flakes and vegan parm
1 cup dry small brown lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
half a bell pepper (or any pepper/chili of choice, nothing too spicy though)
1/2 tsp old bay
2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh parsley
8 oz mushrooms (or 1.5 oz dried, then rehydrated), diced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1.5 cups walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or sub with more walnuts)
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp soy sauce ( I use low sodium)
3/4 cup oats ground into flour in the food processor (or sub with all purpose flour)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp ground flax seed in 3 tbsp water
Preheat oven for 375
Mix the ground flax and the 3 tbsp water. Set aside
Bring the lentils and vegetable broth to a boil, then simmer about 30 minutes.
Sautee the onions, garlic, mushrooms and pepper until browned and the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture. Add the herbs, old bay. I use the 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar throughout the sauteeing to deglaze the pan/make sure nothing sticks.
Strain the lentils. Add half to a large bowl, then pulse the other half in a food processor with the sauted vegetables until roughly chopped and incorporated but not a paste. Add to the bowl with the other half of the lentils.
Pulse the walnuts and sunflower seeds, then add to the bowl with the lentils/veg. Stir in the 3/4 cup of oat flour and the 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Mix well
To the ground flax/water mixture, add the tomato paste and soy sauce. Stir well, then add to the lentil mixture until very incorporated.
Form into meatballs, about 2 tbsp each. I like to lightly brown them in a skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes a side, then roast for 15 minutes.