Lentil “meatballs” with roasted broccoli pesto

Why lentils?  Lentils are a great meat alternative, meaning they have good amounts of protein, iron, and zinc like meat, but they have a few clear advantages over animal products. 1) They’re cheaper.  A 16-ounce bag of lentils will probably run you $2.  Compare this to ground beef, which is, on average, $3.80/pound.  2) They contain tons of fiber.  Good for that GI tract and your cholesterol.  3) They have a much longer shelf life (you can keep them in your pantry).Fennel seeds are that sweet, licorice-y flavor that’s characteristic of Italian sausage.  
A brushing of olive oil over your lentilballs helps them to brown and form a crust on the outside. 

Lentil “meatballs”
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 2 as a meal, 3-4 as a side

1/2 cup uncooked lentils
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup ricotta
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

  1. Rinse the lentils well, removing any debris, and pick out any impurities.
  2. Cover the lentils with 1 cup cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until tender.  Drain any excess liquid from the lentils. 
  3. Dump the lentils into a food processor and blend smooth.
  4. Combine the lentil mush, egg, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Mix in the breadcrumbs and allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400.
  6. Roll the lentil mixture into 1″ balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The meatballs should be golden brown.
  8. Serve with roasted broccoli pesto (recipe below). 
Roasted broccoli pesto
1/2 cup broccoli florets
Olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbsp walnuts, toasted
1 tsp coconut flakes
2 Tbsp milk (I used soymilk for a nuttier taste)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Wash the broccoli well. Toss broccoli in olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. 
  3. Roast the broccoli for 10 minutes or until parts of the florets are looking crispy but the broccoli isn’t super soft – you just want the raw bite taken off. 
  4. Place the broccoli, garlic, walnuts, coconut, and milk in a food processor and blend smooth.  Slowly add olive oil (a really good, fruity olive oil since you’re eating it raw!) until the pesto is at the desired consistency.  
  5. Store any leftover pesto in an airtight container for up to a week.