Lentil "Meatballs" With Light Pesto

September 24, 2012

Lentil "Meatballs" With Light Pesto
Talking about “meatless meatballs” is an oxymoron. One that is hard to justify.
As my niece told me: “How can you have meatballs if there’s no meat inside?”
To a certain degree I had to yield to her reasoning. If there’s no meat you should call them “[something]balls” not meatballs.
Two incongruous words paired together, what a headache to explain to kids. With these lentil ‘meatballs’ however the resemblance and taste to meat is so close that there’s no better way to describe them besides ‘meatballs’.
That’s why the oxymoron is justified. Just this one time.

Light Pesto

Making them is super easy. Lentils, eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and a lot of herbs.
Lentil "Meatballs" With Light Pesto

15 minutes in the pan and they’re ready.
I like to serve them with a light pesto, but I guess that a tomato sauce would work just as well, not to mention ketchup (which is how my nieces had them!)

Lentil "Meatballs" With Light Pesto

Lentil “Meatballs” With Light Pesto Print this Recipe!
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen


Lentils “Meatballs”

2 cups / 14 oz / 400 gr cooked lentils
4 egg whites (or 2 eggs), lightly beaten
½ cup 0% Fat Greek yogurt
½ cup / 1.5 oz / 44 gr grated Parmesan cheese
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup / 4 oz / 115 gr whole wheat breadcrumbs
¼ tsp salt
pepper to taste

Light Pesto (optional)

¼ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 large tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 large tbsp Romano cheese
2 tbsp water to thin


In a food processor, pulse the lentils and garlic until it reaches the consistency of a puree. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well.
Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit at least for 15 to 20 minutes.
Scoop one full tablespoon of mixture and shape into 1 inch balls.
Lightly grease a nonstick skillet and heat over medium flame.
Add shaped “meatballs” and cook until fully cooked and lightly brown about 15 to 20 minutes.
For the pesto, put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. You can add further water or lemon juice to thin as desired. Transfer to a serving pot and drizzle with olive oil.
Serve “meatballs” while warm or reheat them for later use. If properly stored in the fridge they can last a couple days.

Nutrition facts

One lentil "meatball" yields 48 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6.5 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.


  1. Looking tasty! Great the're vegetarian, because I am one :).


  2. They look amazing. Can't wait to try them!

  3. This sounds awesome! I love meatballs and I'm down to try this recipe.

  4. Gosh they sound lovely!! Roll on the 1st of October I can't wait to get me some pulses!!!

  5. I'll try, absolutely!
    If you don't want to call meatball to a ball made by something but less meat, you could try to say "almondega".
    Almondega it's the name in portuguese to say meatball, but the word don't say anything about meat!!!! Meat, in portuguese is "carne" and ball is "bola"!!!! Isn't it curious?!

  6. These lentil meatballs sound and look wholesome! Love the lighter version of pesto sauce too.

  7. Do you think these would work w/out the yogurt? I just can't get to the shops today and I want to try these, but lack the yogurt.

    1. Absolutely. I would adjust the recipe by cutting breadcrumbs by at least 1/4 cup (maybe slightly more), otherwise the mixture will be to dry.
      Let me know if that works!

  8. Can I substitute the breadcrumbs with something else?

  9. how many "meatballs" does this make?