Feb 7, 2014

Spaghetti with lentil balls

There comes a day when we all crave spaghetti with meatballs...or bean balls...

Recipe adapted from  Gray Apron and Giallo Zafferano
time: about 1 hour

250 g (1/2 lb) spaghetti
for sauce:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
750 ml (about 3 cups) tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro)
1 Tablespoon tomato concentrate
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

for lentil balls (makes about 40 pieces):
1 cup (200 g) dry lentils, cooked in unsalted water and drained
1 Tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika in powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
about 3 Tablespoon bread crumbs, quantity depending on the wetness of the lentils
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 medium egg
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Prepare balls: In a medium bowl, mash lentils (not hot) with a fork (or in a food processor). Add spices, parsley, bread crumbs and cheese. Adjust seasoning before adding the egg. Let the mass rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  With your hands, form cherry-size balls. On a large skillet on medium/high, heat oil. Add balls (20 at the time in my case) and sauté for about 6 minutes, shaking and moving the pan constantly, till brown crust forms. Remove from the pan and place ready balls on a paper towel to let the excess oil drip.

Prepare sauce: On a large skillet, heat oil on medium/high. Add chopped onion, garlic and sauté for about 6 minutes (without any browning). Add sauce. Add tomato concentrate (dissolved with a little bit of water). Cook on medium/low heat for 10 minutes. Add spices. Adjust seasoning. Add the lentil balls and gently cover them in sauce to heat them trough.

Prepare spaghetti: Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and add it to the sauce. Arrange pasta on a dish. Pour sauce with lentil balls on top and serve.

  • you won't be fooled here, lentil balls are not like meatballs;
  • they are not as firm and will fall apart if you mix pasta too hard;
  • but they taste just fine...especially in this fantastic tomato sauce:
  • the sauce...I followed this Italian recipe which had one tablespoon of tomato concentrate added;
  • so I did too...and it made a difference; 
  • the sauce turned out rich, thick and tasty;
  • about cooking lentils - you don't want them take too much water during the process; so cook them till just ready;
  • it's best when the legumes aren't hot nor cold for mashing/blending;
  • I ended up using a fork for the operation; lentils don't have to be perfectly smooth; my food processor was just running with a bean mass stuck to the sides; I tried it with a potato press - don't;
  • there is nothing like sitting down with your folks at a table and eating a bowl of pasta...feels really good.


  1. I love lentil! My mom introduced it to me in the form of lentil burgers. This spaghetti looks delicious!

  2. I always say I have to eat more lentils, love the idea of making "balls" with them. great looking spaghetti.

  3. Dear Elzbieta, Looks and sounds wonderful. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  4. I love lentils and this is such a great idea serving them with spaghetti. Looks fantastic Ela!

  5. I love cooking with lentils! And serving lentils with spaghetti sounds wonderful, I bet my family would love this recipe!

  6. Anonymous2/08/2014

    i just brought a bunch of red and brown lentil from my arabian town store,
    this recipe must be my next project then Ela!!!

  7. Can you please cook this for me tonight, Ela xo

  8. A filling and delicious meal! Love those lentil balls, Ela.

  9. That looks fabulous. Lentil balls? I would never have guessed but it looks delicious.

  10. You have perfect timing! I was just thinking that I wanted to try making meatballs with lentils! And now I have a recipe to try : )

  11. Terrific idea! Why not lentil balls when we make lentil burgers! I adore lentils and I would easily slurp this dish up! : )

  12. love these lentils balls look amazing! Ela:)

  13. This is so interesting! I make vegetable balls and sometimes add lentils to it, but that is for an Indian style gravy. I have never used them in spaghetti, sounds so wonderful!

  14. This is such a lovely looking recipe!! I would love to try those lentil balls! YUM :)

  15. A great alternative for those nights when I don't want to serve meat.

  16. A fantastic idea and scrumptious dish!



  17. Te han quedado espectaculares!! las bolas de lentejas me encantan,abrazos.