Vegan meatballs with lentils and mushrooms

Vegan meatballs with lentils and mushrooms

vegan meatballs lunch cut

The time has come for new vegan meatballs you guys, ‘cos I’ve not made any for a while and it’s cloudy… These little balls of deliciousness are made with mushrooms because I love mushrooms and Puy lentils, which were a gift from Duncan’s cousin, Sydney.

Sydney hosts foreign students regularly at her house and gets gifted food from their home countries very often. Anything she isn’t that keen on, I get, because, you know, I’m the kooky vegan who eats weird stuff, ha ha.

I don’t mind as I genuinely like pretty much all food as long as it’s vegan. Plus, I get to treat it as my own mystery box challenge (I trust you are familiar with Masterchef). It pushes me to come up with a recipe featuring an ingredient I would not necessarily be drawn to given lots of other options available.

These meatballs are earthy and filling and really easy to make. If, like me, you live with a horse (sorry, I meant to say Duncan…) I recommend making a double or even triple portion of these, hiding half and freezing it for later.

These are perfect for days when your fridge is so empty it starts echoing your words back and you cannot face going shopping. I get lots of days like that so my freezer is pretty well stocked 😛 .

As you might have noticed, I give Duncan a lot of stick for being a voracious eater, but in reality I’m happy his appetite is back to normal as it means he is running again, something that makes him a much more pleasant person to be around 😉 .

He has been having a bit of bad luck with his health lately and this winter has been marred by chronic sinusitis. He has seen a nose throat and ear specialist recently and things are finally on the mend… Yay! I’m super happy for I’ve seen first hand how draining a chronic illness is.

vegan meatballs puy lentils

vegan meatballs rolling process

vegan meatballs baked vs fried

vegan meatballs lunch close

vegan meatballs lunch

24 meatballs
30 min
45 min
24 meatballs
30 min
45 min
  • 100 g / ½ cup Puy lentils or green lentils
  • 35 g / ¼ cup walnuts
  • 250 g / 9 oz white or chestnut mushrooms
  • oil for baking / sautéing
  • ½ large onion, chopped very finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped very finely
  • 2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 g / 0.35 oz fresh parsley (about 2 tbsp chopped finely)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp smoked (sweet non spicy) paprika
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli flakes (skip if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1 chia / flax egg (optional, see notes)*
  • 30 g / ¼ cup any flour (I used wholemeal), the exact quantity may differ slightly
  1. Cook your lentils following the instructions on the packet – until soft, but not falling apart. Drain and allow them to cool down.
  2. Blitz the walnuts in a food processor until you get a coarse crumb.
  3. Empty the food processor and blitz the dry mushrooms until they are fairly finely chopped, but not too mushy. It may help doing them in 2-3 batches.
  4. Heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a small frying pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry them, stirring regularly, until the onion is translucent and garlic is soft and fragrant. Add minced mushrooms and sautee them, stirring from time to time, until the water cooks out.
  5. Place all the remaining ingredients (except the oil you will use later) in a large mixing bowl and chill the mixture for a few hours. If you are pressed for time, stick the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes or so.
  6. Once chilled, squeeze portions of the mixture in your palm to make it stick to itself and then roll into balls (mine were 20 g each) in your hands. If the mixture is not quite sticking together, add a touch more flour.
  7. Before you are ready to make your meatballs, heat up your oven to 175° C / 350° F and brush a baking tray with a little oil.
  8. Arrange your meatballs on the pre-oiled baking tray. Brush each meatball with a little oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, then flip them gently to the other side and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  9. If you want to pan fry your meatballs, heat up enough oil that it covers the bottom of the frying pan. Once hot, arrange the meatballs on the pan, allow them to brown on all sides, nudging them gently to a new side every now and then. Drain on a paper towel after frying, handle with care as they are fragile when super hot.
  10. Serve warm with your favourite pasta. I served mine with spaghetti coated in my wild garlic pesto, some baby capers and fresh rocket.

*I did try adding a chia egg to these meatballs during the recipe testing stage, but I don’t feel that it is necessary at all, they hold together well without it. If you intend to bake your meatballs (which dries them out a bit more than frying) rather than fry them or you want a nutritional boost, you might want to add one chia / flax egg in at the end (before chilling the mixture), but for the sake of simplicity I left it out.

0 g
2 g
0 g
2 g
4 g
*per meatball
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4 reviews, 26 comments
Hi Ania!
Always love all your recipes and looking forward to trying this one! Really dumb question, but you say to mix all the remaining ingredients and put them in the fridge - is that mixed with the mushrooms and such? As in, after you fry it, do you add it to the rest in a mixing bowl and mix it before chilling? Thanks for all the lovely food you keep inspiring!
    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for your kind words and please accept my apologies for a late reply - I have been snowed under house electrics the last few days. Yes, that's exactly right, you precook onions, garlic and mushrooms for depth of flavour and to ensure the mushrooms cook through and all excess water cooks out and then mix that mixture with all the remaining ingredients, chill and then form into balls. Hope they will go down well. x Ania
Hi, I used the pan fry option and my meatballs fell apart :( it tasted good but they turned into a mince style meal rather than meatballs. I skipped the chia egg because I didn’t bake them.
    Hi Elle,
    I'm sorry to hear that! At least they tasted nice! I suspect it is because the mixture was too dry and you do need to squash the mixture in your hands for the balls to keep together, I hope you'll try again and you'll get a better result. Ania
I made them with Turkish gram as they hold their shape better than the others when cooked. I slightly overlooked them by accident ( because I used the pressure cooker 🤭) but the final product was lovely. These were a hit in our household! Thank you !
    Fantastic to hear! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you and your family enjoyed them! x Ania
Hi, can I use red lentils or moong dal or even Turkish gram in this recipe as I don’t have Puy/green lentils? Thanks ☺️
    I'll be honest, I'm not 100% sure as I have not tried. As long as they don't get too mushy (which red lentils I think do), it should be ok. It's definitely worth a try. Good luck! Ania
If I’d like to freeze these for later, should I bake or fry them first? Or to I freeze them “raw” and cook after thawing? Thank you, I can’t wait to try these!
    Hi Tracy,
    I think I would cook them first (but having said that both should work fine) and then just re-heat after defrosting. Hope that helps! Ania
Seems to be a great meal. I have a question: the mushrooms shouldn't be fried before mixtturing?
    Hi Bella,
    Yes, you are correct of course! So sorry, I must have accidentally deleted it during editing, thanks for letting me know. Ania
Delicious! Really creamy, I'll add more flour next time as i'm def using this recipe again! Dzięki piękne!
    Great to hear! Dzieki za mily komentarz. xx Ania
I can't have walnuts. Could it be replaced with something else?
    Sure, you can use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds...
Would these fall apart if slow-cooked in a sauce? I have a great goulash recipe that I like very much but as I'm eating way less meat now, I'm not using it. The recipe involves putting the sauce and meatballs in a low oven for a couple of hours. If not, any thoughts for how I might make the meatballs a little more resistant to falling apart?
    Hi Bethan,
    I would not recommend cooking them in the sauce. As opposed to meatballs, which are made with raw mince, these are made of have already cooked ingredients so you are bound to end up with mashy/overcooked meatballs if you cook them in the sauce. Frying / baking them seals the outside without affecting the inside too much so it's an ideal way to cook these. Hope this helps! Ania
Hi Ania... can you prepare this a day in advance, and bake next day?
Thanks in advance!
    Yes, absolutely you can! Ania
Gillian Grace-Hair:
Hi l would love to try this but l cant eat any lentils what can l replace it with ?
    Hi Gillian,
    I have not tried, but most beans like chickpeas or white beans ground up coarsely should have a similar effect. You could also use ground up firm cotton (i.e. not silken) tofu. Hope that helps! Ania
These look amazing- can't wait to try.. random question but do you have a recommendation for a good food processor?! X
    Thanks, Angie! I am a bit of a cheapskate and have 2-in-1 (food processor with a blender attachment) machine from Kenwood, like this . It is my second one - the first was very old so I needed to replace it. I'm so happy with it that even though I bought a second hand power blender, I never ever use it. Ania
Great recipe, as always on this blog! I tried a version where I replaced all of the herbs in the meatless balls with fresh mint , and I loved the result, really fresh and reminding me of middle-eastern food! Thanks for everything you do on here, love from France :)
    That sounds perfect, Ariane! I'm so pleased to hear that you are enjoying cooking with me :) Greetings from sunny Bristol!! x Ania
These look delicious! I also adore lentils-especially when cooked as “daal”- the possibilities for that dish are endless! I was wondering what could be used to substitute walnuts in this recipe, as I would love to make it, but am allergic to all nuts. Or could the walnuts be omitted altogether? Thanks!
    Thanks Marianne. I would not skip the completely as that will throw ratios out, but you can easily sub them with hemp hearts, ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Hope that helps! Ania
I love puy lentils. They're also great in vegan Shepherd's Pie, lasagne or burgers. I'd love to try these meatballs but I don't like mushrooms. If I find a substitution that works I'll let you know. I love your blog!
    Hi Tina,
    I am pretty sure that baked celeriac could work well in this recipe also, in fact, this was going to be my next test :) It works with similar flavours too! Ania
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