Easy Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa (Gluten-Free)

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe with Lentils and Quinoa | Meatless Meatballs

Friends, HAPPY 2016!

I know we’re almost two weeks into reinvention season and I have yet to bring you my definitive recap of The Wellness Project. Forgive me! I’d love to tell you that I’m working on it. But if I’m being honest, mama needs a vacation.

All of the medium-rare steaks, French macaroons and hours on my butt I gave up in the process of making over my life last year paled in comparison to the juggernaut of book writing. The weight of the project cranked me into a whole new gear of anxiety and self-loathing. It nearly broke my spirit at the end, right when I was technically supposed to be tackling the “spirit” portion of my wellness to-do list.

Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe with Lentils and Quinoa | Meatless, Gluten-Free, Veggie Quinoa Meatballs Recipe | Meatless, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Now that I’m on the other side though, with my manuscript successfully handed in a few hours before leaving for the airport on Christmas day (!!!), it feels soooo good. Even better than the kind of good I used to feel star fished on the couch after a multi-course meal of medium-rare steak and French macaroons.

My physical vacation in Brazil was the perfect antidote to those last few weeks of all night laptop sessions and mental mania, in that it involved a lot of caipirinhas. After a few of them, the pleasure of watching hairy men play beach volley ball in speedos only grew, along with my desire to buy a thong bikini covered in tropical Amazonian flowers.

Needless to say, it was the best trip a girl could ask for, at the best possible time. But now that all those jungle walks, hammock naps, and gluten-free cheese rolls are behind me, my mind still hasn’t wanted to return to reality. Or, at least, not to the book I closed before I left.

Lentil Meatballs Recipe | Vegetarian, Gluten-Free Veggie Meatballs Recipe with Lentils and Quinoa | Meatless and Gluten-free

So as my first order of business, I’ve been getting back into the kitchen and mentally distracting myself from the world of wellness with the world of gluttony I forsook while writing about kale smoothies. This is #balance, I suppose?

I’ve made it through a large stack of old Bon Appetit and Food & Wine issues and have so many ideas to share with you in the coming weeks. I promise I will eventually write up my remaining two cents on The Wellness Project. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy a little Meatless Monday special.

I developed this quinoa-lentil vegetarian meatballs recipe for an event I hosted earlier this fall. I meant to get it up in time for the holidays as a cute veggie ball appetizer for those sad gluten-free vegetarians who never get to eat anything off the cater waiter trays. But, alas. It’s all for the best though. Because as I discovered upon returning to an empty fridge, and subsequently defrosting the dozen meatless meatballs squirreled away in my freezer, these cuties taste best over spaghetti. (Duh.)

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe with Lentils and Quinoa | Veggie Meatballs Meatless Meatballs Recipe with Lentils and Quinoa | Vegetarian and Gluten-free

I don’t know what food rules you’re trying on for size this resolution season, but if my humble opinion counts for anything, I hope you’ll embrace humble whole grains and legumes in 2016. Your gut is fiber’s number one fan. It’s a total Belie(fi)ber.

(okay, okay…that was bad. Is it too late for me to say sorry?)

These veggie meatballs are like little fiber piñatas that your gut bacteria can’t wait to crack open and feast upon. Not only are they packed with quinoa, lentils, shallots and herbs, but they’ve also got a handful of hemp seeds instead of breadcrumbs! The recipe makes two dozen, so consider freezing a portion for more desperate empty-fridge times. You may end up eating them on the couch (it’s way too cold to leave my apartment at the moment). But I guarantee you will feel better afterwards than any indulgent red meat or sweet confection combination.

I have many more recipes for healthy hedonism coming your way in 2016, both in the kitchen and out. So I hope you’ll keep coming back for more now that I’m once again a reliable blog BFF!

What are some of your resolutions/intentions/do-over strategies for the New Year? Let me know in the comments!!

From one healthy hedonist to another,

Recipes-Logo Gluten-free Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe made from Lentils, Quinoa and Hemp Seeds | Meatless

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa (Gluten-Free)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen mini meatballs

Serving Size: 8

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa (Gluten-Free)

This easy vegetarian meatballs recipe uses red quinoa, lentils, and hemp seeds. It's a meatless gluten-free version of spaghetti and meatballs! You can also serve these little balls as a simple meatless appetizer.


  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 pound aged Manchebo cheese or Parmesan, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 cups cooked lentils (from 1 cup dry, see note)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup dry, see note)
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and paprika until combined.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the Manchego until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the egg mixture.
  4. Add the parsley, garlic, and shallot to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the lentils to the food processor and pulse until a coarse paste. Transfer to the mixing bowl along with the quinoa and hemp seeds. Fold the meatball mixture together until combined.
  6. With clean hands, form the quinoa-lentil mixture into 1-inch balls (you can use a tablespoon to portion) and arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets ½ inch apart. You should get 2 dozen mini meatballs.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve over your favorite spaghetti and tomato sauce. Or even better, this simple romesco sauce!


To cook the lentils, place 1 cup dried lentils in a medium lidded saucepan and cover with 2 inches water. Add a bay leaf and two garlic cloves (optional). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Remove the aromatics, if using.

To cook the quinoa, combine 1 cup dried quinoa in a medium lidded saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 17 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Then fluff with a fork.

If you don't have a food processor, you can simply grate the cheese and mince everything by hand.

instagram  If you make this, share a photo and tag me @PhoebeLapine #feedmephoebe - I would love to see it!



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16 Responses to Easy Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa (Gluten-Free)

  1. Nina says:

    Looks delicious, I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  2. Truly, a great recipe dear Phoebe! We consume lots of legumes ourselves (they play an integral part in the traditional Greek diet), mostly lentils, beans and chickpeas. Quinoa is a new ingredient and we aren’t accustomed to it yet, but we’ll get there:) This is definitely a yummy dish to try quinoa with.
    Really glad you had such a great time in Brazil! You deserve some vacation, and after all, there’s always the fatigue from blogging constantly like you do:)
    Have an amazing 2016, full of joy and health!
    Sending you lots of sunshine,
    Panos and Mirella

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  5. Frankie says:

    My New Year’s resolution is to make this recipe. I bludgeoned my gut bacteria to death over the holiday.

  6. CakePants says:

    I’m a big fan of lentils but usually fall into the same routine of eating them over salads and in soups, so this looks like a wonderful change of pace! I love the idea of cheesy meatless meatballs made from quinoa and lentils. Yum!

  7. Sarah says:

    These look PERFECT! As an omnivore who loves lentils, I especially appreciate that this non-vegan recipe doesn’t deprive me of cheese, and I don’t have to worry about whether my vegan balls will hold together without eggs. Having these tonight with the (hopefully good) brown rice/quinoa spaghetti from trader joe’s!

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  9. KelseyDN says:

    How do you think they’d do without the cheese? I can’t do dairy (sadly), but maybe they’d still hold?

    They look amazing.

    • Hi Kelsey! I think they’d probably be fine. The lentils are kind of sticky, so the cheese is more just for flavor. Let me know how they turn out so I know for sure! xo

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