Meatballs are one of those comfort foods that I keep coming back to again and again. I think anything that is made with your bare hands (literally) and takes a little time is infused with an extra element of love, making it all the more special. That said, for convenience this recipe makes 30 decent sized meatballs or 40 smaller ones, meaning there is more than enough for a few meals. This makes it an awesome dish to include in your weekly meal prep as you can then flatten larger meatballs into burger patties or freeze the raw balls for another meal. It also uses mashed lentils instead of breadcrumbs as the binder making it both low GI and gluten free. For an incredible smoky flavour (on your treat day of course) you can add the mince from 1 chorizo sausage too. If you’re vegan or vego, click here for a plant based alternative to the meatballs.
The pasta sauce is so quick and easy to make, you could also do a double batch and save the remaining sauce for any number of other recipes. It makes an incredible pizza base!! Chop some tomatoes, add a tin of cannellini beans, some paprika and chilli and you’ve got an awesome base for Mediterranien baked eggs too.
500g lean beef mince
500g lean pork mince
1 400g tin lentils, mashed
2 large carrots
2 large zucchini
1/2 large brown onion
1 Tbsp mixed Italian herbs (go ahead and use fresh herbs or the herb blend in a tube for a more intense flavour)
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
Roasted Capsicum Sauce:
1 250g jar roasted capsicum, oil drained but reserved (or the flesh from 2 capsicums if you’re roasting yourself)
2 400g tins diced tomatoes (feel free to use the flavoured variety, I use an olive oil and garlic flavoured version usually)
½ brown onion
2 tsp minced garlic or 2-3 fresh garlic cloves
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp raw, brown or coconut sugar
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
Optional: Fresh herbs to finish, parsley, oregano & basil all work really well
Drain the capsicum on some kitchen towel and place in a food processor with the tinned tomatoes
Finely dice the onion and cook in a large based pot until soft in a little extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat with the minced garlic
Add the tomato mixture and all remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer on low while you make the meatballs. If you’ve made a double batch split the mixture in two and store one half
Mash lentils in a large bowl with a potato masher
Finely grate the carrots and zucchini, to save time I shove the whole lot through the fine grater setting on my food processor
Finely chop onion
Add all ingredients to a bowl and with clean hands, mix & massage until well combined. This is the bit where you infuse this dish with a little piece of your soul.
Wet your hands slightly to prevent the mixture from sticking and roll into balls of the desired size
In a large pan over medium heat, cook the meatballs in a little extra virgin olive oil until golden all over
Once the meatballs are browned, pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook for a further 10-12 minutes while you boil your pasta
Optional: If you’re choosing to add the fresh herbs (and I recommend you do, it’s just that my two small kids at this stage are buggers and refuse to eat the green bits) throw them into the sauce for the last two minutes.
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