LENTILS: Albeit small, lentils are a nutritional powerhouse full of cholesterol lowering fiber, folate and magnesium, both important in heart health. In addition to providing slow-burning complex carbohydrates, lentils also increase energy by replenishing iron stores.
SUMMER SQUASH: High in Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Summer squash, like zucchini, is an important food source for cartenoids and antioxidants. The skin of the squash is particularly antioxidant rich, so it is worth buying organic and leaving the skin intact while cooking.
CARROTS: High in Vitamin A and Vitamin K. Carrots have a high beta-carotene content, which has important anti-oxidant benefits. Recent studies have concluded carrots can help in reducing risks for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Makes about 40 small vegetaballs
1 cup dried brown lentils
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
½ onion, finely chop
1 zucchini, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 carrot, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
½ lb mushrooms, chopped (about 2 cups)
½ cup gluten free bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped basil leaves
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare lentils, rinse the lentils and put into a large saucepan with 1 ¼ cup water or broth and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil, then reduce to a medium-low and simmer covered for 20 -25 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed into the lentils. Turn off the burner and let the lentils sit for about 10-15 more minutes covered. The lentils will be tender when done, but still hold their shape.
Meanwhile, in a with a knife or in a food processor, finely chop garlic, onion, zucchini, and carrot. Place processed vegetables in a large bowl and set aside.
With a knife or in a food processor, coarsely chop the mushrooms. Add them to the raw vegetables. *The mushrooms help to add meaty texture to the ‘meatballs’ so don't chop them as finely as the rest of the vegetables.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Place the lentils in the food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until they are broken up. The appearance will look like that of cooked ground beef.
In a sauté pan on med-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Add vegetables and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, releasing some of the moisture from the vegetables. Once cooked, place vegetable mixture and lentils in large bowl
Add bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, basil and parsley to the same bowl. Mix to combine.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs and add to the lentil mixture until completely incorporated.
With a 2-tablespoon scoop, shape ‘meat’balls into small balls and place on baking sheet.
Bake in oven until lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Serve on a bed noodles or zoodles, with Marinara Sauce (see below for recipe).
Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup vegetable, chicken or bone broth
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet.
Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the broth and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper.
Cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.