Lentil Veg Balls with Pesto Linguini
Serves: 6 Prep time: 20 minutes (excluding time to soak lentils) Cooking time: 30 minutes (excluding time to cook lentils)
Baking time: 20 minutes
the perfect plant based meal for the whole family
*created for Le Creuset SA
Lentils are from the legume family, they’re one of the oldest health foods and are highly nutritious little guys. I personally love them because they’re affordable, versatile and packed with plant based protein and fibre. They’re also filled with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Lentils are beneficial for digestive health, heart health, cholesterol, diabetes and blood sugar levels. I’ve combined these lentil veg balls with mushrooms for texture, flavour and nutritional benefits. Mushrooms are super nutritious while being low in calories, they’re also filled with fiber, protein and antioxidants. They have anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties, help fight inflammation and are also beneficial for heart health and blood sugar levels as well. Plus they bring all the umami flavour and deliciousness to these lentil balls!
So what is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast also known as noosh is basically a deactivated yeast with a cheese-like taste often used as a vegan cheese substitute. The flavour from nutritional yeast is packed with delicious umami notes and in my homemade pesto recipe would replace the parmesan or pecorino cheese that is usually used in traditional pestos. Nutritional yeast is filled with vitamins, minerals and amino acids but it is a processed yeast and may cause sensitivities for some people.
Let's cook :)
1.5 cups cooked brown lentils, soaked overnight and cooked in vegetable stock
1 red onion, sliced
2 cups mixed exotic mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp sourdough breadcrumbs
1 tbsp ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (with ‘the Mother’)
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp smoked paprika
generous pinch of dried herbs
sea salt or pink Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking
Ingredients for homemade pesto
3 cups basil (can also sub cavolo nero or fresh organic carrot tops)
2 garlic cloves
¼-⅓ cup lemon juice (I like my pesto lemony)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp filtered water
Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to taste
To serve: Linguini of choice, cooked
Vegan parmesan cheese, grated
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onions, garlic and spices. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat and add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have cooked down, lower the heat and add the apple cider vinegar and tomato paste. Cook for a further few minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 170C.
To make the chia or flax ‘egg’ combine 1 tbsp ground seeds with 3-4 tbsp filtered water in a small bowl or glass and mix well.
Add the cooked lentils to the mushroom mix and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the chia or flax ‘egg’ and the breadcrumbs. Combine together well and mash some more so that it will easily roll into balls. You don’t want a completely smooth mixture but it should be easy to form into balls and not fall apart.
Line a baking tray with either a silicon mat or parchment paper, gently brush the balls with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes, flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.
Cook pasta according to packet instructions.
To make the pesto, combine all the ingredients in a food processor, blender or nutribullet and pulse. If you want a chunky pesto don’t over blend, if you prefer a smooth and creamy pesto sauce then blend for longer.
Combine the linguini and pesto together. Serve hot with the lentil veg balls, generous gratings of vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves on Le Creuset beautiful meringue oval platter.
Special thanks to food stylist and photographer, Samantha Lowe