For the Meatballs
3 cups cooked lentils (I used green lentils because they told their shape after being cooked)
1/4 cup sautéed mushrooms
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, plus MORE to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
olive oil, for topping
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoon finely diced onions
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme and/or fresh sage
- 1 cup sautéed mushrooms
- *To make the lentils, in a large saucepan bring 6 cups water to a simmer. Add salt (like you’re salting pasta water), crushed garlic clove, wedge of a yellow onion, and a bay leaf to the simmering water. Add 2 cups dried lentils and cook for 25-30 minutes until tender and cooked through. Strain through a colander and discard the garlic, onion, and bay leaf. This method will leave you with extra cooked lentils for salads of dinner.
- To make the meatballs, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add lentils and mushrooms. Blend and pulse until relatively smooth, about 2 minutes. Mixture will be slightly dry and still a bit chunky. That’s right! Transfer to a large bowl.
- To the pureed lentil mixture add onion, garlic, fresh herbs, spices, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs.
- In a medium bowl whisk eggs until well combined. Whisk in the ricotta cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Add the wet ingredients to the lentil mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined.
- Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a large tablespoon scoop to meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1-inch between each meatball. Drizzle literally with olive oil and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while the rest of the ingredients come together.
- To make the gravy, in a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and whisk immediately, allowing the butter to absorb the flour and whisking constantly for 1 minute. Slowly stream in the vegetable broth, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken and then appear thin again once all of the vegetable stock is added. Add the soy sauce. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream, salt, pepper, thyme, and mushrooms. Simmer until thickened again, about 4 minutes more. Keep the gravy warm over very low heat.
- To serve, just before serving, toss lentil balls in warm gravy. Place on a plate alongside mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Top the mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce as well. Enjoy warm.
- I find that it’s easiest to make the potatoes and cranberry sauce before the lentil balls and the gravy.