Cooking for Your Vegetarian on Valentines Day!

Last year for Valentine’s, I made several recipes from the book I had been given for Christmas called “Jerusalem” by Yotom Ottollenghi.  This year, I think I have upped the game!  I am making lentil “meatballs” and fresh pasta, with a lemon pesto.  I did get the idea from a blog a I read quite a bit, but the pasta making is something I have been doing for years on my own, so the addition of it wasn’t hard.  I’ll give you all three recipes, so you can duplicate it for yourself!  I’ll blog the pasta making, and the hazelnut cheese cake I blatantly stole from Nigella and made my own, tomorrow and Monday.

The Hubby and I both love meatballs with pasta and sauce, and luckily you can get some good quality “fake” meatballs on the market.  I even found a new product called Neat, which uses ground nuts, and no soy, and you can pretty much add an egg and roll your own!  This recipe caught my eye, mainly because it incorporates lentils with some ricotta cheese to give it life and lightness.  Honestly, the mixture looks very much like a meatball, and the feel when you roll them out and bake them is almost identical.

Lentil “Meatballs”, by way of “Sprouted Kitchen”:

  • 2 c cooked lentils (that’s about 1 cup uncooked, I used French Puys, and added the fennel seed to the cooking water)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c ricotta
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp each of each salt and pepper
  • 2/3 c fresh breadcrumbs, or Panko

In a food processor, or blender, process the cooked lentils until they’re pureed.  They will be dry, but that’s OK.  Add all the other ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together.  It should look greyish and you will be able to see some of the lentil pieces.  Scrape this all out into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill well.  I made it in the morning and formed the meatballs around 5pm.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  You can lightly coat the foil with oil, or not, the oil will make them a little crustier.  Roll out the balls in tablespoon amounts, I used the mini-ice cream scoop you see below.

Lentil meatballs

Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes, then give the pan a little shake, so they brown on all sides, and return to the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes.  If you leave them in for the longer time, check frequently after the 17 minute mark.  Once brown, take the sheet out of the pan and allow to cool, then serve with the pesto below, or any sauce, or dip you like.  I also served them with pasta, and at room temperature.

Lemon Pesto

  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly cut up
  • 1/4 c pine nuts (I used walnuts, Hubby hates pine puts)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 c packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Put everything except the olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor or blender.  Process until everything is finely minced.  Slowly add the olive oil down the funnel when processing.  Everything will begin to cohere in a thick puree.  Scrape out of the processor into a bowl, stir in the Parmesan.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you need it.

Lemon pesto

And tomorrow, the pasta recipe!

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