Confession: If it’s a weeknight and a recipe says it takes longer than 30 minutes, I swipe left on that faster than I would on a guy who says he’s sapiosexual on his Bumble profile. (Softboy alert!) This rule is generally a good idea, but it also means that some of my favorite foods are just off-limits if I’m cooking at home because of my self-imposed time constraints. Lasagna, dumplings, meatballs…I miss you all so much.
Well, we have the fix for at least one of those foods. In the latest episode of Well+Good’s new video series Cook With Us, holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque created a plant-based Italian soup with vegan lentil meatballs (!). And reader, she made the entire meal in under 30 minutes.
“My mom always used to make spaghetti and meatballs, and I was looking for a healthier alternative,” she says. But no alt-meat products here; as mentioned, LeVeque instead uses lentils as the protein base for her “meat”balls.
It’s a pretty clever tweak, IMO. One cup of cooked lentils contains a whopping 18 grams of protein. These legumes are also full of fiber, which makes them great for digestive health, as well as disease-fighting polyphenols (aka plant compounds with antioxidant properties). Thanks to the combo of protein and fiber, they’re not going to leave you hungry an hour after you eat. “It’s gonna fill you up,” LeVeque says.
She notes that you can buy dried lentils and cook them yourself, but as a time-saving hack she uses pre-cooked lentils. She then pulsed them all in the food processor with a few other herbs and spices, formed them into balls, and quickly browned them on the stovetop—all of which came together in 15 minutes flat.
LeVeque ultimately used her vegan lentil meatballs in a vegetable soup. But you could also toss them in some marinara sauce and top with nutritional yeast, or do basically anything else you normally would with a regular meatball. And seriously—they look (and taste) really similar to the real deal. Hungry yet? Get the recipe by watching the video above.
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