Meatless Meatballs

There’s nothing like a meatball and these veggie versions have just the same lovely comforting mouthfeel as the meaty kind. This makes a fab supper dish that all the family will love.

Meatless Meatballs


Prep time
25 minutes
Cooking time
50 minutes
249 per serving


  • 100g brown lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 100g spinach or chard, washed and finely shredded
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp cardamom
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 25g pine nuts, lightly crushed
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper


  • 1 quantity of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • squeeze of lemon juice


  1. First cook the brown lentils according to the packet instructions and set them aside in a bowl. If using ready-cooked lentils, you need 250g.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion and carrot. Cook them over a low heat until the onion has softened, then add the spinach or chard. Continue to cook until the greens have wilted and softened – if using spinach, cook it until any liquid evaporates. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the spices. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice and the parsley to the bowl with the lentils, then the cooked vegetables. Stir in the egg and the mixture should clump together. Form the mixture into 12 balls of about 40g each and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake them in the oven for 10–12 minutes until lightly browned.

  4. Put the tomato sauce in a large, shallow flameproof casserole dish or a deep frying pan and stir in the harissa paste, some of the parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add the lentil and spinach balls in a single layer. Cover the dish with a lid and heat through on the hob for a few minutes until everything is piping hot. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and serve at once.