Swedish Lentil Balls, Yes You Heard Me, Lentil Balls.
Okay, people it's all lentils all the time here in Lentilville. The Canadian Recipe Revelations Lentil Challenge is on and we have been eating nothing but lentils for the last week while I try out some ideas.
I spent the weekend perfecting my appetizer entry, Cauliflower "Wings" Three Ways and so today was lentil main dish day here. It was time to make my final run of these Swedish Meatless Balls. These meatballs are so tasty on their own that I think I am going to make them into burgers too and I would totally eat these on their own or with another sauce. Honestly, nobody even noticed that there was no meat in there. When asked what smelled so good, I just said "Swedish Meatballs" knowing it's one of The Kid's favourites. I popped a plain ball into his mouth and all he said was
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and skipped out the door to go to karate.
That is some high praise.
I LOVE these and I love meatballs. I love meatballs made with pork or lamb or chicken and this is the very first time I have tried to make a meatless ball and I am actually kind of shocked by how tasty these little buggers are. They are moist and get a nice crisp on the outside and the flavour is hearty as all get out. The only drama I encountered was the name.
Swedish Meatless Balls?
You know what? I am just going to call them what they are; They are Swedish Lentil Balls. Balls of Lentils in the Swedish Style. Ikea balls made of lentils. BAM.
If you want to help me win in the main course category, go to the Canadian Lentil Facebook Page and like them. If you want to be super duper, leave a comment and you can leave one here too, they are paying attention to this stuff.
Swedish Lentil Ballsadapted from Goop
A note about the lentils:
If you are going to use dried lentils, cook them, drain them and cool them. I found some organic French green lentils at Bulk Barn and they were perfect so I recommend those but if you can't find them, use a plain green lentil or the small brown ones would work well. Just don't use red or yellow lentils because they don't hold their shape and will get too mushy for this dish. Remember that 1 cup of dried lentils will give you between 2 and 3 cups of cooked.
If you use canned, drain well.
Lentil Balls2 cups cooked lentils
1-2tbls olive oil
2 slices bread, whizzed in the food processor
1/4 cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup ricotta
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 - 1 1/4 cup panko
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, divided
Sauce4 tbls butter
4 tbls flour
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you don't want to use chicken)
1 tbls grainy mustard
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk
a handful of parsley, chopped
Cover the bread that you have whizzed up in the food processor with the milk and set aside to soak for about 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a small pan over med heat and drizzle about 1 tbls of olive oil. Saute the onion for a minute or two before adding the garlic. Saute for another couple of minutes until softened and remove the pan from the heat so that the onions can cool to room temperature.
Put the lentils in the food processor with a tbls of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Remove the lentils to a big bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the ricotta and salt and continue to stir until combined. Dump that over the lentils, and stir well to combine. Now add in the onions, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, the soaked bread, 1/2 cup panko and parmesan. Use your hands to combine.
Put the bowl in the fridge to set up a it for at least 30 minutes.
When it's time to eat, Preheat the oven to 375F.
Remove your lentil mixture from the fridge. Test it out and if it's too wet to hold together, add more panko, 1/4 cup at a time. The amount of panko will depend on the type of lentils but I used up to 1 1/4 cups of panko with these little green guys to get it so that the balls would hold together nicely.
Get a baking sheet and spray it with spray oil. Roll the lentil mixture into nice little balls, smaller than a golf ball and place them on the sheet. Spray the tops with some more cooking oil spray and put them in the centre rack in the oven and cook them for ten minutes. After ten minutes, take the pan out and gently roll them over. At this point they felt like they were still really soft but after the final cook they firmed up perfectly. Feel free to flatten them slightly because nobody cares if they are perfectly round, right?
Now, pop them back in the oven but on the very lowest rack and cook them for another 3 minutes, take them out and rotate them one more time to another side - by now, mine were looking almost triangular which is fine. Cook three more minutes on the bottom rack and take out of the oven.
Meanwhile, during the first ten minutes of cook time, melt the butter in a saute pan and add the flour, cooking, stirring constantly, until the roux gets nice and brown. Slowly start streaming in the stock, whisking as you go to keep it nice and smooth. Once all of the stock is added in and you are sure there are no lumps, add in the grainy mustard, let it come to a simmer and cook it until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. When it's thickened up , turn the heat off, stir in the evaporated milk and leave it on the burner, stirring to make sure it's all mixed in, for another couple of minutes. Throw in your parsley and stir.
To serve, put the meatballs on a bed of rice or noodles, cover in sauce.