Spiced lentil balls
This recipe is inspired by one I found in a recipe book first published in 1994. Amazingly, it’s still in print, and extremely cheap too!
There are loads of good recipes in the book, several of which I’ve made since buying it. Spaghetti with Lentil Balls and Tomato Sauce is one of them. Strange though how they called it spaghetti when it’s clearly shell pasta in their picture!
Anyway, I thought it sounded good, so gave it a go, but tweaking and changing things as you do. I frugalised it too.
How do I make Spicy lentil balls
Drain a tin of lentils, or cook dry lentils until tender. Place the drained lentils in a food processor, along with the fine chopped onion, peanuts, breadcrumbs, curry paste, salt and pepper. Blend until you have a smooth paste, now add the flour and mix in well.
If you don’t have a food processor, chop each ingredient as fine as you can. Then pile the whole lot on a large chopping board, get your biggest knife and give it all another good chop, drawing the chopped mixture into the centre as you go. Then scrape it all into a bowl, add the flour and mix well together.
The recipe in the book has beautifully shaped, perfectly round balls, but I found the mixture MUCH too wet to shape in that way, although I was using 2 eggs at that point which I’ve since omitted. I used a melon baller for consistent sizing, a tsp to remove the mix, and a little flour to help shape a small ball. Makes LOADS!
I must admit I lost the will to live a bit at this point, it took a while to shape all the mixture. If you don’t fancy this, you could always shape the mix into burgers and use it that way. Fry the burgers in a little oil, and once cooked, break up to use with the pasta and sauce.
Drizzle a little oil on each one so that they bake crisp, or use something like Frylight if you want to minimise the oil.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200C, 180C Fan, 400F, Gas 6 until golden brown and crisp. Or deep or shallow fry them. These really are best if they are crispy.
While the lentil balls are baking, cook the pasta in salted water until tender. Drain and stir in a tiny bit of oil to stop it sticking together.
Also while the lentil balls are cooking, tip 2 tins of good tomatoes, or passata, in a saucepan, add salt, ground pepper and sugar. Warm through. This seems like a lot of tomatoes, but you really do need half a tin per portion.
Tip the pasta into a large warmed bowl, pile the lentil balls on top of the pasta and pour the tomato sauce over.
What are Spicy Lentil Balls like?
These little lentil balls are very tasty, working beautifully with the pasta and tomato sauce. My husband had parmesan sprinkled over his. They could also be used much like falafel. So dip them in hummus, stuff into a pitta bread or wrap with salad and hummus. Full of protein, with 19g per serving, these are great for growing children.
I used a Tandoori paste when I made them, which was delicious. I used 2 generous tablespoons but was surprised that the flavour wasn’t stronger, they could easily have taken twice as much.
Pack them into a lunch box either on their own, or with the pasta and tomato sauce. Perhaps with parmesan on top too.
What changes can I make to Spicy Lentil Balls?
- Try them just on their own, they’re really good!
- Have them hot or cold with any flavour hummus, dip them in tomato ketchup or have them with chips, peas and mayonnaise.
- Use large green lentils; large brown ones; chickpeas; kidney beans; butter beans; yellow split peas
- Enjoy the lentil balls with a jacket potato; in a sandwich with mayonnaise or pickle; with spaghetti; couscous
- Change the flavour by changing the curry paste or use a curry powder.
- Make it Thai by adding a red, green or yellow Thai paste.
- Use garlic, fresh ginger and chill.
- Turn it Chinese by using fish sauce and miso, and maybe some water chestnuts.
- Add some tomato puree, and / or some chopped sundried tomatoes, especially if not using a tomato sauce.
- As they are, they are vegan (check your curry paste, although most will be ok).
- Change the nuts to any other kind, or a mixture
- Keeping the same total weight, use half walnut, half raisins; half brazil nuts, half sultanas; half hazelnuts, half dried apricots
- Change the sauce.
- Would be good with a creamy mushroom sauce, a tin of mushroom soup would work well, or cream of chicken. Or make up a parsley or cheese sauce.
- Or roast some veg – say, onion and butternut squash with some garlic, season it and whizz to a smooth sauce to pour over the top instead of the tomato sauce.
- Cook and whizz some green peas, and maybe some mint.
- A big blob of value soft cheese stirred through the tomato sauce would be lovely.
Here’s another veggie nut ball you might like.
Spiced Lentil Balls
- 70 g brown lentils dry weight, or half a can
- 50 g salted peanuts
- 100 g onion chopped small
- ½ slice bread
- 1½ tblsp curry paste any flavour
- 20 g flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 500 g tin of good tomatoes
- 250 g pasta
- Drain the lentils, or cook the dry lentils until tender and drain.
- Place the drained lentils in a food processor, along with the fine chopped onion, peanuts, breadcrumbs, curry paste, tsp salt and half a tsp ground pepper. Blend until you have a smooth paste, now add the flour and mix in well.
- If you don't have a food processor, chop each ingredient as fine as you can. Then pile the whole lot on a large chopping board, get your biggest knife and give it all another good chop, drawing the chopped mixture into the centre as you go. Then scrape it all into a bowl, add the flour and mix well together.
- Using a couple of teaspoons, or your hands, shape into balls and place on a baking tray
- Drizzle the tiniest bit of oil on each one, or use something like Frylight if you want to minimise the oil.
- Cook in a medium oven for 20 minutes - 180°C Fan. Or you could fry them gently in a frying pan until cooked through.
Cook the pasta
- While the lentil balls are baking, cook the pasta in salted water until tender. Drain and stir in a tiny bit of oil to stop it sticking together.
Warm the tomato sauce
- Also while the lentil balls are cooking, tip the chopped tomatoes or passata in a saucepan, add 1.5 tsps salt, 0.5-1 tsp ground pepper, 2 tsps sugar. Warm through.
- Tip the pasta into a large warmed bowl, pile the lentil balls on top of the pasta and pour the tomato sauce over.