There are plenty of delicious non-meatball alternatives out there for us plant-based folks. Turns out, you don’t need beef to make a kickass meatball. These ones are made using eggplant and lentils.

I find eggplant a great substitute for meat-based dishes. Eggplant has a nice meaty texture and great binding potential. It’s also a nice alternative to using mushrooms in recipes, which is a popular ingredient in vegetarian cooking. However, I notice that people either love or hate mushrooms and so I wanted to show you another option for a comforting “meaty dish” in case you’re planning to host a get-together and want to avoid a food preference mishap. Low and behind these vegan meatballs! They are made by combining eggplant, lentils and oat flour for a cozy pasta and meatballs dish that will charm any vegan skeptic.

Eggplant and Lentil Vegan Meatballs

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Servings 25 meatballs

Ingredients

Eggplant and Lentil Meatballs

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 eggplant (about 425g)
  • 1/2-1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup cooked green lentils
  • 1/3 cup black olives, pits removed and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon zest and juice
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
  • pinch sea salt and pepper

Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 jar organic tomato puree (700g)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • splash red wine (optional, but I love it)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
  • more sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet whole wheat spaghetti noodles (450g)

Instructions

For the Meatballs

  1. Finely chop garlic and onion and add to skillet with coconut oil. Bring to medium-high heat and cook to soften (10 mins). Chop eggplant into bite-sized pieces and add to the skillet. Cook until softened (15 mins).
  2. Pour oats in a food processor until flour substance, then transfer to a bowl. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a food processor with lentils, olives, lemon juice, tamari and tahini. Pulse to combine.
  3. Spice meatball mixture with cumin, nutritional yeast, cayenne, and pinch salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 cup of ground oats. Pulse to combine. (The oats will help to thicken the meatballs. Texture should be moist, but you want it dry enough to handle with your hands. I needed only 1/2 cup ground oats, but add more if needed).
  4. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Shape meatball mixture into little balls and place on a tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden.
  5. Make tomato sauce: add chopped garlic and coconut oil to the saucepan. Bring to medium-high heat and cook until softened (3 mins). Pour in tomato puree and cook on a gentle simmer. Add a generous pinch of salt, lemon juice, and splash red wine. Sprinkle with cayenne, more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add meatballs to sauce and gently mix to combine. Keep meatballs on low heat while you cook spaghetti.
  7. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of water for 7-8 minutes, or until al-dente. Strain and divide into bowls. Top with saucy meatballs.

Nutrition Notes: Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g