Courgette & Lentil ‘Veggie-Balls’

Eating and experimenting with vegetarian food in January really did get me excited to come home every day to try something new. So, I’ve continued doing just that since the month ended. Now, no longer do I panic buy dinner in the evening and end up with something unimaginative or bland – instead I’m making delicious new dishes that are organised in a weekly meal plan.

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Some people definitely don’t have the time or effort to create meal plans and I don’t blame them – sometimes it’s easier to see what you fancy on the day, grab something on the way back from work or see what’s in the reduced section. However, having continued with being veggie I need to ensure I am getting the right levels of protein and carbohydrates in my diet. Therefore, for me, planning my meals make far more sense!

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On the plus side you can reduce the number of times you have to go to the supermarket, you don’t have to worry all day about what’s for dinner and you end up trying lots of new dishes because you have thought about it ahead of time. In addition, if you are trying to stay on the healthier side, meal plans are great because you aren’t tempted by pizzas, ready meals or takeaways in the evening because you have either already bought the food you need for that specific night or you don’t even consider having anything other than what you planned…

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I am also an organisational nightmare – having a plan for everything and anything makes me happy, much to the annoyance of G who hates it when I wake up on a Saturday with a fully scheduled day of events!

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So, enough about planning… more about veggie ‘meatballs’ aka ‘veggie-balls’? Not that creative hey, but we’ll run with it…

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G’s mum has sent me some absolutely great recipes over the last couple of months and the one I’m going to share today is a winner! It’s super easy to make, super satisfying and super balanced with protein, carbs and veggies! I can guarantee vegetarian or meat-eater that you will love this dish, so give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Ingredients:

Serves 3-4

For the veggie-balls

400g tinned green lentils
2 medium courgettes (about 275g – grated)
1 medium egg
1 garlic clove (crushed)
40g parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
Small handful of basil leaves (shredded)
60g white or brown breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of sugar

Method:

– Drain and fully rinse the lentils. Allow to drain well in the sieve and then put into a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth.

– Lift handfuls of the grated courgette above the sink and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid. Pat dry with kitchen towel.

– Put the courgette into a bowl and mix in the egg, garlic, parmesan, basil, breadcrumbs and season well.

– Add the blitzed lentils to the courgette bowl and mix well.

– Shape mixture into 16 golf balls-sized ‘veggie-balls’.

– Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat and fry the balls, carefully turning occasionally until golden on all sides (about 15 minutes).

[- If you want to boil up some whole-wheat pasta (as I have) ensure to put that onto boil when you start cooking the veggie-balls.]

– Meanwhile to prepare the sauce, heat the oil over low-medium heat in a separate pan and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes until softened.

–  Add the remaining sauce ingredients with seasoning and bring to the boil.

– Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

– Drain the pasta and serve onto a plate, arrange the veggie balls and spoon over as much sauce as you’d like! Garnish with some basil leaves and an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

IH xo

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