lentil meatballs with lemon kale pesto

There’s been a lot of excitement and praise around the blogosphere for Sara and Hugh Forte’s new cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen.

I’ve been following their blog for over a year and can’t tell you how much I look forward to their posts which include healthy, delicious recipes made from fresh ingredients.  Hugh’s photography is stunning…so beautiful you can almost taste the food.  The photos are clean and simple and  it’s what I aspire to. He is the photographer I want to be when I grow up (as a photographer, obviously!)

There are many recipes I can’t wait to try, but the first were these lentil meatballs.  Sara describes them as both light and hearty at the same time, and she is right.  I didn’t change this recipe in the least, except to make my pesto with kale because that’s what I had on hand.

No frying involved.  They are baked on a cookie sheet and sprayed with an organic olive oil spray to give them a bit of crunch on the outside.

lentil meatballs with pesto (from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sarah and Hugh Forte)

1 cup lentils

2 cups water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup ricotta

1/4 freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

few pinches of fresh or dried thyme

1 tsp sea salt

2/3 cups bread crumbs, preferably fresh

Pesto:

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts (almonds work well here, too)

grated zest and juice of one lemon

pinch of sea salt

1 cup packed chopped kale

1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp water

Put the lentils and water in a medium sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the lentils are tender, adding water if the water evaporates (about 15 to 20 minutes).  Drain lentils and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer lentils to food processor and pulse until a chunky puree forms.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, olive oil, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, fennel seeds, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Combine well.  Stir in bread crumbs and let sit for 15 minutes.

While waiting, make the pesto.  In a food processor or blender, add garlic, pine nuts, lemon and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Add basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, and Parmesan.  Blend or pulse again until smooth, adding more olive oil if needed to smooth it out along with a little water if needed to get a saucelike consistency.

Form 1-inch balls between your palms with the lentil mixture.  If it doesn’t hold together firmly and seems to wet, add more bread crumbs, one tablespoon at a time until it holds.  Arrange the meatballs on the prepared cookie sheet.  Brush with olive oil or, as I did, spray with an olive oil cooking spray.

Bake until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the meatballs halfway through, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove.

Serve with pesto.

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