Monday, April 26, 2010

30 and counting.....on lentil, er, balls.

This is the text I got from Erica in the middle of a workday afternoon: 

what bean goes with basil?

My reply: 

white beans cannelini great northern emailing you a recipe

I sent her this link to this Tuscan bread soup I remembered by Rachel Ray.  I remembered it because it has day old bread and stewed tomatoes in it (two kind of gross things that end up tasting really good), in addition to white beans and basil. 

On the phone later that night, I asked if she'd tried the bread soup to solve her beans/basil issue.  She hadn't, she'd actually been thinking about trying to make 'meatballs' out of beans - beanballs, if you will.

And the wheels started turning.  Lentils.  I kind of knew I needed to start with lentils.  (Although, now that lentils worked, I'm formulating a white bean meatball recipe to try, too.)  So, jumping off of my lentil burger recipe, I came up with this:

Lentil Meatballs

1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water (salted)
1 med. onion - finely chopped
1/2 a red bell pepper - finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 carrot - (you guessed it!) finely chopped
2tsp dried basil
2tsp dried oregano
6tbsp oat bran (or rolled oats you've pulsed in your food processor)
olive oil
vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste

Bring your 2 cups of salted water to boil, add lentils, return to boil then simmer with a lid on until water cooks out and lentils are tender.  (I cook lentils like I cook rice, feel free to do it your way.) 

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium saute pan.  Add onions, saute alone for a minute or so, then add carrots, garlic, and red pepper.  Saute for 5 min, until all vegetables have softened, then stir in basil and oregano and cook for another minute.  Remove vegetables from heat and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. 

Once lentils are cooked, add them to the sauteed vegetable mixture.  Combine the lentils and vegetables, adding a little olive oil to coat and salt and pepper to taste.  (At this point, if you'd like it to taste a little more 'italian', feel free to up the basil and oregano.)  Add oat bran, one tbsp at a time, mixing as you go.  Once all 6 tbsp of oat bran are in, whip out your potato masher and give the whole mixture a good mashing.  This will help all your ingredients stick together when it comes time to form the meatballs.  (You should still be able to see individual lentils, the idea is a course meal, not a puree or paste.)  While the mixture is still warm, form into meatballs, about 1-2in in diameter, as you like.  Once all your balls are formed, let them stand for 15 minutes.* 

Heat canola oil in your favorite frying pan, enough to coat the bottom.  Place your lentil meatballs in the hot oil, one by one, allowing space to flip them once they brown.  Use a spoon to gently roll them over in the pan, some lentils will jump ship, but the meatballs should remain intact.  Brown them on all sides and then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. 


We ate ours with a kind of chunky sauce with diced tomatoes and olives.  Don't get me wrong, it was really tasty, but ideally, I think I would serve the lentil meatballs over any kind of spaghetti pasta (wholewheat, spelt, rice, whatever your fancy) with a smooth red sauce like marinara. 

This same recipe could be used to make italian-style lentil burgers.  Buon apetito! 





*It may help to refrigerate them, but in this initial run, I didn't have the time so I can't vouch for the results.

4 comments:

chrissy teets said...

I had to post this because last night I was reading about this in a magazine called Cooks Illustrated. Its a great magazine where they try and figure out how to make a recipe and then the science of why it works. So this one was on Tuscan bean stew with cannellini beans, which is what I am relating to your post. They are trying to figure out how to make the inside of the bean creamy (not mealy) and the outside soft and for it not the burst and fall apart. So they figured out that if they soak the bean in salt water (3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts cold water to 1 pound of beans) overnight then the outside has softer skins than if they soaked them in regular water (because the sodium is replacing some of the calcium and magnesium ions in the bean skins)-so this is brining the beans, I has no idea. But then later when actually cooking the beans they don't use salt water, so not much salt enters the beans and so they don't get mealy. (they have a reason for that too, but this is getting long), (but if you want to know it's probably easy to find). and then last to get the beans to not explode while cooking they cook them until just simmering on the stove, and then put them in a 250 degree oven and cook them that way until they are done. I am totally trying this tomorrow-the whole soup, not just the beans, so hopefully all of this will lead to a good bean soup. I wanted to post the link to the recipe, but you have to give them a lot of personal information to and only get 2 weeks on the site, but I put in cooksillustrated and hearty tuscan bean soup in google and it brought me up to the site.

glutenfreeshiksa said...

I was looking for a lentil ball recipe and found you. :) These are really good. I don't know what I did wrong, though, because they fell apart completely when I tried to fry them. I've had this problem with other foods I've tried to fry, though, so I think maybe the oil isn't getting hot enough? I dunno. But I can bake these instead and they're still delicious. :)

Sarah said...

I was looking for a lentil ball recipe and found you. :) These are really good. I don't know what I did wrong, though, because they fell apart completely when I tried to fry them. I've had this problem with other foods I've tried to fry, though, so I think maybe the oil isn't getting hot enough? I dunno. But I can bake these instead and they're still delicious. :)

Sarah said...

So Glad you liked the recipe! I've found that refrigerating the lentil balls for 20-30 min before cooking them helps them to solidify and stick together better. Also, less oil in the pan so that what you're trying to fry isn't tempted to break apart in the excess oil. Check out my new project for more recipes! http://www.happyhealthybelly.com Take care!