So I was making these, and a friend came over. She asked if they were easy to make. That got me thinking, what makes a recipe easy? Is it a short cooking time? A short active time regaurdless of cooking time? A limited number of steps? Instructions that can be followed by a complete novice?
And what makes a recipe hard? Is a recipe hard if it requires unusual equipment? Fussy or precise techniques?
I’m betting this is one of those things that varies from person to person. I would love to know, What makes a recipe easy or hard for you?
For me, an easy recipe is one that comes together with good results every time, without the need for precision. A recipe can be easy for me if it requires multiple pots or even spending an hour in the kitchen; those don’t even enter my equation. An easy recipe is one that I can do without sustained attention; if I get distracted and leave it in the oven a minute too long or add a little too much of one ingredient, it won’t ruin the results. For me, hard recipes are things like soufflés, and pretty much anything requiring leavening.
This recipe meets my criteria for “easy”. No need to measure things precisely, you can always adjust to add more liquid or more oats at the end if the consistency isn’t right. You could easily sub flax meal or breadcrumbs if you’re out of oats. You can use a different combination of spices, or sub cooked beans for lentils. You’d still get a good result. On the other hand, it isn’t a quick recipe, and it results in a lot of mess – using multiple pots and a food processor. But it’s worth the mess! These were a big hit all around.
I love baking these in mini-muffin tins. It’s super easy, and a lot less messy than frying them. I got the idea from Oh My Veggies’ mushroom meatball recipe, as well as the inspiration for these meatballs. My version came about when I didn’t have any mushrooms, and decided to sub sun-dried tomatoes for a similar umami taste and chewy texture.
The sun-dried tomatoes are the star ingredient in this recipe. They add depth and richness to the more bland lentils and oats. Honestly, you could get away with not using any seasoning if you use a good sundried tomato. And if you used a smoked sun-dried tomato, you could probably even skip the liquid smoke.
These come out lovely and crispy on the outside and a bit mushy on the inside; the middle will firm up a little if you let them cool for a few minutes before eating. They taste best fresh from the oven, but still make great leftovers! Try them in a meatball sub.
If you’re lucky, I might try to make these into vegan sweet and sour meatballs for Vegan Mofo…
- 1 cup lentils
- ½ cup sundried tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp mild oil, like canola or grape seed
- ½ cup oats
- 1 tbsp oat bran
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin.
- Cook the lentils according to package instructions.
- While lentils are cooking, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water.
- Just before the lentils are finished, coarsely grind the oats in a blender or food processor. You want them broken up but not powdered. Stir the ground oats into the finished lentils and let sit for a minute to soften the oats.
- Sautee the garlic and onion in the oil until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the liquid, and coarsely chop. Add to the food processor with the onions and garlic, pulse a few times. Then add the oat/lentil mixture and the remaining ingredients (spices, oat bran, liquid smoke). Process until you have a smooth, sticky mixture. If the mixture seems a little dry, add some of the reserved tomato liquid; if it seems too thin, add a bit more oat bran. You want the mixture to be thick enough to easily form into balls, but not so thick that it won't blend easily in the food processor.
- Scoop the mixture into prepared mini-muffin tin, either forming into balls with lightly greased hands or using a cookie scoop. You'll want about 2 tablespoons per reservoir. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until browned.