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Lentil and Ricotta “Meatballs” with Ricotta Polenta and Tomato Sauce

1 Feb

I saw this recipe for “meatballs” formed from lentils about a month back at Sprouted Kitchen and knew I wanted to try it.  Because I am a huge sucker for meatballs with polenta, I decided to serve them that way to add a bit of creaminess to the meatballs.  I really enjoyed these – they have sort of a falafel-y texture with a punch of lentil and spice flavor.  I particularly enjoyed the hint of anchovy, because it added a touch of umami that made these really satisfying and special.  My only complaint is that they were a touch dry as-is.  With the tomato sauce they were fantastic, and I might decide in the future to sub half of the panko for bread crumbs soaked in milk.  All-in-all, this was a filling, hearty, and healthy vegetarian main course (technically pescatarian, though you could easily omit the anchovy) that I will definitely play around with in the future.

Lentil and Ricotta “Meatballs” with Ricotta Polenta and Tomato Sauce

Lentil and Ricotta “Meatballs”:

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

1/2 lb. green lentils, cooked according to package instructions

3 anchovy fillets

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup part-skim ricotta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbs. fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp. carraway seeds

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. olive oil

Place cooked lentils and anchovy fillets in a food processor.  Pulse until lentils are almost entire smooth, about 50 times, scraping down sides as necessary.  A little texture is okay, but you don’t want too many whole lentils.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add all other ingredients except panko and stir well to combine.  A little at a time, add panko until lentils will easily form into a ball (test one).  Let sit at least twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400º and spray a parchment-lined baking sheet with a bit of nonstick spray.  Now is also a good time to start your sauce and polenta.

Once everything is up to room temperature, form meatballs into 1″ balls.  Place on the baking sheet.  They can be fairly close together, but not touching.  Brush with olive oil.

Bake 30 minutes, gently flipping over halfway through to ensure even browning.

Ricotta Polenta:

1 1/2 cups polenta

4 cups water, divided

3 tbs. ricotta

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Slowly whisk in polenta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once the polenta vigorously boils, reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir frequently.  As water reduces and polenta thickens, slowly add a few tablespoons of the remaining cup of the water at a time while whisking vigorously.  Continue this process until all water is used and polenta is tender, about 20 minutes.  Whisk in ricotta and taste for seasonings.  Adjust as necessary.

Tomato Sauce:

1 8 oz. jar basil and herbs tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic cloves and sauté 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add tomato sauce and crushed red pepper flakes.  Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Simmer 15 minutes until reduced and flavors have melted.

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