Italian Archives | Plant Based, Family Friendly Meal Planning by Stephanie Dreyer, Los Angeles

February 15, 2018
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I hope your family enjoys these Lentil Walnut Meatballs as much as mine! As a vegan Italian, plant-based meatballs are a staple in my house. There are some great ready-made options at the store by Gardein and Trader Joe’s, but my family prefers homemade. My Beyond Meat vegan Italian meatballs are always a win, but I recently played with my lentil burger recipe to create an Italian meatball that is free of faux meat.

These Lentil Walnut "Meatballs" are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

These lentil walnut meatballs start with a saute bath of mushrooms in garlic, onion, and olive oil. The smell is insanely delicious. There is nothing like the aroma of onion and garlic in my opinion! That’s the most “strenuous” part of the recipe. After that, you just combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Make them gluten-free by swapping out the breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option.

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

I used a cookie scoop to form these lentil walnut meatballs. Make sure the oil is hot enough and covers the bottom of the pan well before placing your meatballs inside. You don’t want to walk away from these or be multi-tasking (I have tried and burnt them!). Monitor your meatballs and keep rolling them so that they get crispy all around.

I have also included a recipe for a quick and easy marinara sauce. I throw all of the ingredients for the sauce in a pot before I start the meatballs so that it can simmer, allowing the flavors to be enhanced.

I like to serve these meatballs over a combo of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti. I toss the raw zoodles with the spaghetti and it blends in nicely. It’s the only way I can get my kids to eat zucchini!

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

Please try these Lentil Walnut Meatballs, and let me know what you think. My non vegan kids aren’t always fans of the faux meats so having whole foods plant-based option like these is a great go-to recipe for our family. For more Italian recipes that my family loves, try my Dairy-Free 3-Cheese Rigatoni, my Vegan Beef Lasagna Rolls, or Italian Stuffed Ricotta Burger.

Lentil Walnut "Meatballs" with Marinara Sauce

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

For the "meatballs"

  • 1 14.5 ounce cans lentils or 1 3/4 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms about 8 ounces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • ½ onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes.
  3. Combine the mushrooms, walnuts, lentils, breadcrumbs, garlic powder and onion powder in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Form into small golf-ball sized meatballs.
  5. Heat olive oil in a pan. Place the meatballs inside and cook, turning often until golden brown and crispy all around.
  6. For the sauce, the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To serve, cook 8-16 ounces of spaghetti, spiralize 2-4 zucchinis, or use a combination of both. Top with the sauce and "meatballs".

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

 

 

 

 


January 17, 2018
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Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to batch cook each Sunday. I eat them all week long as a dinner side dish, tossed in tofu scrambles… and my favorite, piled into vegan bowls. This Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl is a delicious way to eat up leftover veggies or roast a pan especially for this bowl like I do! I prefer plump, juicy tomatoes and cauliflower for the veg mix, but sub your favorites. The key is to roast them with whole garlic cloves and herbs. I use the Italian seasoning blend from Penzey’s Spices (my favorite local spice store).

A good bowl is full of layers, so in addition to the roasted vegetables, you’ll find a mound of lacinato kale, cannellini beans, and orzo. I sauted the canned beans with garlic, olive oil, and thyme for taste bud pleasing results. Sure, you could just rinse and drain a handful of beans directly into the bowl, but I find that it’s the bursts of flavor from each component in the bowl that take an average bowl to wow status. Lentils would also be a great sub for the beans. I used orzo instead of a grain in this recipe because of its Italian status and similarity in texture to rice, but risotto would be a nice swap if you want a grain.

This Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl is full of flavor. Topped with a creamy, dairy-free dressing, it's a complete meal to lunch on all week long.

Drizzled on top is a luscious, dairy-free Caesar dressing that adds just the right amount of tangy to each bite. Soaked cashews are the creamy base for this otherwise, quick and easy sauce that comes together in less than 5 minutes in your high-powered blender. Dijon mustard and capers add bright, vibrant flavors to this traditional recipe.

This Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl is full of flavor. Topped with a creamy, dairy-free dressing, it's a complete meal to lunch on all week long.

You can cook and prepare all of the ingredients, as well as the dressing ahead of time and store them for the week, making it quick and easy to throw this meal together all week long. Lunch is served! Give it a taste and let me know what you think.

This Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl is full of flavor. Topped with a creamy, dairy-free dressing, it's a complete meal to lunch on all week long.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the Creamy Caesar Dressing:

  • ¼ cup cashews soaked for 2 hours or overnight and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

For the Bowl:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower broken into florets
  • 10 garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 6 leaves lacinato kale chopped
  • 1 cup orzo dried

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the vegetables, garlic cloves, olive oil, and herbs on a sheet pan until coated. Roast for about 30 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the orzo and drain.
  4. Heat a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the beans and thyme. Cook for 3-4 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and mix until smooth.
  6. To assemble the bowl, start with a layer of kale on the bottom. Top with the orzo, beans, and vegetables. Drizzle the dressing on top.

This Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl is full of flavor. Topped with a creamy, dairy-free dressing, it's a complete meal to lunch on all week long.


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