Almost everyone I know is in full back to school mode and almost everyone I know is feeling a little more tired than usual this week (us included). Between new schedules, earlier rise times, and having to pack lunch boxes I know that getting dinner on the table can sometimes seem like more of a chore than ever! Easy dinners that everyone will love, that you can prep in advance, and that can be on the table in 30 minutes are essential for survival if you ask me! My easy lentil meatballs with homemade marinara are just the kind of meal that you will have the energy to make on even the busiest of days!
Do you meal prep? I have to admit I usually don't take the time to actually do it, but every time that I end up meal prepping, I am always so glad that I did! Even just prepping a few dinner ingredients ahead of time makes the biggest difference in the evenings when you have a hungry family stalking you for snacks before dinner. With these lentil meatballs, you can cook the lentils as early as a few days in advance, and then make the meatballs the night before or morning of and the marinara can be made days in advance too! That means when it's time to cook dinner, all you have to do is bake the meatballs, reheat the sauce, and boil some noodles! Hello easy weeknight meal!
If you are skeptical because you are usually all about your actual meatballs that have meat in them, I get it! BUT I really think you will dig these lentil meatballs too, they are hubby and kid approved so give them a try! Lentils are full of fiber and protein and are a great substitute for meat in this dish! I serve mine over zucchini noodles, but they can be served with any other kind of veggie noodle or regular pasta noodles that you choose!
We try and eat a meatless meal one to two times a week and this recipe is a great addition to our other vegetarian favorites!
If you are still thinking, I want actual meatballs, don't worry I have you covered! Check out my recipe for regular meatballs in marinara!
- 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Lentils (that have been cooked in flavorful broth of choice)
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4-1/2 Cup Quick Cooking Oats (can sub bread crumbs or gluten free oats too)
- 1 Egg (or flax egg)
- 1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
- 1 Tsp. Dried Basil
- 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
- Olive Oil or Avocado Oil Spray
For the Marinara-
- 1, 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 3 Finely Minced Garlic Cloves
- 1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 1 Tsp. Salt + more if needed
- 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Basil
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine lentils, garlic, parmesan, 1/2 of the oats, egg, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper into a food processor.
- Pulse until it forms a dough like consistency. Add more oats at this time and pulse again if lentil mixture is too sticky. (Test by forming a ball, if it stays together you are good!)
- Make 1 inch balls and place onto a baking sheet, preferably that has a baking rack on top of the sheet to allow for more even cooked meatballs. Alternatively you can rotate the meatballs halfway through cooking time. Spray with olive oil spray before placing into oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- While the meatballs cook, heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add chopped onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and then season with salt and pepper.
- Sauté until onions are translucent and then add in crushed tomatoes.
- Add in basil and then stir to combine.
- Let simmer for 5 minutes, taste test and then season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- To serve spoon marinara over noodles of choose and then top with meatballs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately.
Note: Meatballs can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months and prepped in advance.
Don't those lentil meatballs look delish? Pin this recipe to save for easy weeknight meals!