It’s month two of the Crazy Ingredient Challenge and this month’s ingredients are lentils and molasses. Since I’ve recently adopted an anti-inflammation diet (and thus, sworn off red meat), lentils have become a staple in my pantry so I was excited to experiment with them. After a few fails, I finally came up with a tasty Tangy Vegan Meatball recipe that’s just as nutritious as it is delicious.
Did you know that together, lentils and brown rice form a perfect protein? This is a little fact I only recently discovered and I used it as the foundation of my recipe. Next, I decided to add some color and flavor, which coincidentally added tons of vital nutrients. In went shredded carrot, minced onion, and finely chopped beet greens. I happened to have beet greens on hand, but any dark, leafy green (e.g. spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard) should work just as well.
Since I am now gluten-free, I had to come up with a way to bind all of these beautiful ingredients together without relying on bread crumbs. I was going to use oat flour to keep it vegan, but I was out of it and was too lazy to go to the store so I added an egg and hoped for the best. Here’s the thing, hope wasn’t enough to make this mixture easy to mold into meatballs in the traditional sense. So, if you make this, don’t get frustrated when you see this mixture and realize you can’t shape the dough into balls by rolling it around between your palms. It’s a little too flimsy for that. However, a cookie scoop works perfectly and once the meatballs come out of the oven, I promise that they are just as firm and sturdy as a regular meatball.
The meatballs are intentionally a little bland because I had big flavor plans for the sauce. If you don’t want to mess with the sauce, you’ll want to amp up the flavor in the meatballs my adding more herbs and spices. If you don’t have a dairy aversion, some parmesan cheese would be amazing. If you want to make the sauce (which is ridiculously easy and super tangy), don’t mess with the meatball recipe or you’ll have a lot of flavors playing tug-of-war in your mouth.
The sauce is made with just three ingredients – cider vinegar, spicy brown mustard (you can substitute in yellow mustard or dijon mustard if you prefer), and molasses. The molasses adds just the right amount of sweetness and depth of flavor rather than taking over the sauce like honey or sugar might.
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped beet greens or other dark, leafy greens
- 1/2 small onion minced
- 1 large carrot finely shredded
- 1/4 cup oat flour for vegan or 1 egg
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
- 1 T molasses
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Combine all ingredients for meatballs in a medium bowl, mixing well to coat all ingredients with egg.
Using a small cookie scoop, scoop balls of meatball dough and place 1-2 inches apart on baking sheet.
Bake at 375°F for 9-11 minutes.
While meatballs are baking, combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If sauce begins to boil, reduce to a simmer to keep warm until meatballs are done.
Serve meatballs warm from the oven and spoon generous portions of the sauce over them.
Don’t forget to check out what the other challenge participants came up with this month. Who knew there were so many ways to combine lentils and molasses?