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I’ve always been a huge fan on meatball subs. It was my standard order at Subway for years, and when Irving and I were feeling lazy on the weekends we would walk across the street from our old place to the Italian restaurant and I would always order a meatball sub. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but I really loved them. A few weeks ago a craving struck and I set out to make my own meatballs—or “beanballs” if you will. They were so yummy, and could be used in so many dishes—pasta, lasagna, pressed flat as burgers. Plus, they are packed with protein as they are made with lentils AND quinoa! I think it’s a really versatile recipe. Hope you enjoy them as much as Irving and I did!
Beanball Subs, makes about 2 dozen balls, will feed 6
1 c lentils, 5 c water 1 tsp salt
1/2 c onion, roughly chopped
2+ T olive oil, divided
1/2 c grated carrot
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 T parsley
1 c quinoa
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/4 c wheat gluten
2 T tomato paste
1 T soy sauce (bragg’s)
8 kalmata olives
sub buns—I ended up using whole wheat hot dog buns, but a crustier Italian style bread would be SO good! Read the labels carefully—bread makers really like to sneak whey in!
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Place 5 cups of water into a pot and add lentils. Bring to a boil and salt, allowing lentils to cook until al dente (this will take about 30 + minutes). Drain and set aside.
In another small pot boil 1 ¾ c water and 1 c rinsed quinoa until quinoa is soft (about 20 minutes).
In a large shallow pan, sauté onion in 1 T olive oil. As it softens, add carrot, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes. Continue to cook until onions are softened. Lower the heat. Add parsley, bread crumbs, wheat gluten, soy sauce, and mix well. When lentils and quinoa are cooked, add them to the onion mixture, along with the olives. Stir well to make sure everything is well incorporated. Remove from heat.
Place about 2/3 of the mixture into your food processor and pulse slowly until your mix is slightly chunkier than hummus—it should not be smooth. Add in remaining 1/3 of mix and pulse once or twice to mix ingredients—do not loose the chunky texture!
Scoop mixture into tablespoon size balls and roll them, compacting the mixture as you go. Once all balls are rolled, heat olive oil (about 1 T) in a non-stick pan. Heat jar of marinara sauce in another shallow pan.
Sear the balls in the oil and allow to cook for a few minutes on all sides. It’s best to do this in a few batches so that you have room in your pan. If it gets too crowded it’s nearly impossible to flip the balls!
Once balls are cooked, gently transfer them to the warm marinara sauce and let them simmer. Spoon some marinara sauce over the top to coat beanballs. Once all balls are cooked, place them in a bun (3-4) with a scoop of marinara sauce. We garnished ours with panko bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, parsley, and sautéed onions and mushrooms. Enjoy!