These lentil and mushroom vegan meatballs with marinara sauce are perfect on their own or added to spaghetti!
With a lentil, mushroom and walnut filling these balls are packed with protein and flavour and are a great meatless alternative!
The rich tomato marina sauce is the perfect pairing for these meatballs, topped with plenty of vegan parmesan and fresh basil!
How to make vegan meatballs:
The main ingredients for these meatballs are mushrooms, green lentils and walnuts. These are going to make up the bulk of the mixture.
To start we are going to sauté mushrooms with onion and garlic. You want to cook down the mushrooms until the water has evaporated and they are nice and browned.
In a food processor, blitz together the oats and walnuts. You want an oat flour and finely chopped nut mixture.
Add the mushroom and onion mix along with the remaining ingredients. These are: green lentils (cooked), tomato purée, sundried tomatoes (in oil), marmite, herbs, pinch of chilli, flax egg (flax seed and water) and salt and pepper.
Together, these ingredients are going to add depth of flavour mixed with a combination of texture.
Pulse for a few seconds in intervals, using a spoon to break up the mixture if it gets stuck at the bottom.
You want there to still be some texture in the mixture. Add the remaining lentils in and pulse on last time.
Take a tbsp of mixure and roll into a ball, repeat until all the mixture had gone. It will make around 15 balls, but you can make these smaller or bigger if you wish!
Pop them in the fridge to firm up whilst you make the marinara sauce.
Fry the finely chopped onion on medium heat for a few minutes and then add the minced garlic.
Once the onion has softened add the cherry tomatoes, tinned chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper.
Leave to gently simmer for around 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
Whilst the sauce is simmering you can start to fry the balls. You may need to fry them in batches, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan.
Fry them in some oil on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, making sure to turn them so the brown on all sides.
Then place them on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. This will firm them up more ensure they are heated through.
When the sauce is done you can either leave the sauce chunky or blitz until smooth – I like it both ways, but if you’re serving with pasta you may want it smooth.
What to serve with these meatballs and marinara sauce:
- Spaghetti! It’s a classic for a reason and these vegan meatballs and marinara sauce are delicious with spaghetti (or any type of pasta).
- Some fresh crunchy bread – sourdough, ciabatta or a french stick!
- Serve as a starter on their own, with plenty of grated vegan parmesan and basil!
For more lentil and mushroom recipes you may enjoy these:
Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff – mixed mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce served with wild rice and garlic bread
Tagliatelle Puy Lentil Ragu – a rich tomato and puy lentil ragu sauce served over tagliatelle
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie – red lentil and mushroom shepherds pie with a cheesy sweet potato mash topping
As always if you make these vegan meatballs in marinara sauce be sure to leave me a comment, rate this recipe and tag me on Instagram. I love seeing all your photos of my recipe recreations!
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- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 250g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 tbsp flaxseed
- 2.5 tbsp water
- 3/4 cup (about 80g) oats
- 1/2 cup (55g) walnuts
- 1 tin (400g) cooked green lentils, drained
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 sundried tomatoes, in oil
- 1/2 tsp marmite
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper
- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 2 tins (800g) tinned chopped tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 200C/350F.
- Start with the meatballs. Finely dice the onion, mince the garlic and chop the mushrooms into small chunks.
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the onion. Fry for a few minutes, stirring, then add the garlic and mushrooms.
- Cook until the water from the mushrooms has evaporated and they are nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
- Make the flax egg by mixing the flaxseed with water, leave to thicken.
- Place the oats and walnuts in a food processor and blitz until the oats are flour like and the walnuts are finely chopped.
- Add the mushrooms along with flax egg and all the other ingredients, leaving 1/3 of the lentils behind.
- Blitz for a few seconds in intervals, using a spoon to mix the mixture if it gets stuck at the bottom.
- You want there to still be some texture so don't over mix it. Add in the remaining lentils and pulse one more time.
- Take a tbsp of mixture and roll into a ball, repeat until the mixture has gone and place on a plate. I made around 15 balls, but you can make less or more if you want them smaller or bigger. Pop them in the fridge whilst you start the marinara.
- Add a tbsp of oil to a frying pan on medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook for a few minutes before adding the minced garlic.
- Add the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and stir. Then add all the remaining ingredients. and some salt and pepper. Add a bit of water to the empty tins of tomatoes, swirl and add to the pan.
- Leave to gently simmer for 20 minutes until thickened.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and add the chilled meatballs. Don't overcrowd the pan, do it in batches if needed.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes, turning them so they are browned all over.
- Place them on a baking tray and place in the oven to finish cooking for 10-15 minutes.
- Taste and season the marinara if needed. You can either keep chunky of blend until smooth using a hand blender.
- Serve meatballs with the marinara sauce, vegan parmesan and fresh basil!
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