Meatless Meatballs

Meatless Monday Special:  Meatballs.

Lentils are the base for this modern meatball.  Made with just a few ingredients from your SimplyCooking® Pantry, this simple everyday recipe lends itself to many imaginative meals.  Upcoming posts on Mondays will feature healthful twists on meatballs.  Meanwhile substitute these little meatless meatballs in your favorite meatball dish.

meatless meatballs

1/3 cup breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp. milk (or almond milk)
1/2 cup lentils
1 cup water
1 egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt (Celtic Sea Salt preferred)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a little lemon zest
3 Tbsp. oil (grapeseed* or olive oil), divided

Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Soak the breadcrumbs in milk as the lentils cook.  Rinse the lentils very well.  Place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.   Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.  Drain if necessary.

Place the lentils and breadcrumbs in a food processor bowl and process until a paste forms.  Remove this mixture to a medium sized bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir and mash with a large spoon until all the ricotta cheese is fully incorporated.

Roll into small balls no larger than 1" in diameter and place on the lined baking sheet.  Brush with 2 Tbsp. oil.  Bake 12 minutes.  Remove the sheet and turn the meatballs, gently and very quickly reforming to a  ball shape with your fingertips as you turn them to the browned side up.  Brush with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil and return to the oven.  Bake 8 minutes more.  Serve.

Makes 24 - 28 meatballs.

*Note:  All SimplyCooking® recipes will soon use grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil.  


A few leftover olives can be a very good thing.  Add some capers, a clove of garlic, a little dried basil and olive oil and ...ta da... a lovely tapenade.  Its' simplest application is a light smear on a sliced baguette or crostini.   But this Provencal classic can also serve as a nice flavor base for a veggie sandwich.  Spread the tapenade on a baguette and layer with roasted vegetables, cheeses, lettuces or spinach - whatever is in season, whatever you have.  There are endless creative combinations.  The SimplyCooking® Mediterranean Layered Sandwich uses tapenade in this very way with a layering of SimplyCooking® pantry items:  jarred roasted red peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onion and mozzarella cheese.  Wrap the sandwich very tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled for a light and refreshing spring meal.


1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/4 cup dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil, cold pressed
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

Blend the olives, capers, dried basil, olive oil and garlic in a food processor or blender until very finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.

Hot Bean and Artichoke Dip

Hot Bean and Artichoke Dip baked in a small Le Creuset dish.  
A creamy, warm dip made with only a tablespoon of mayonnaise and sour cream, Hot Bean and Artichoke Dip is a winter "go to" recipe.   Spread on crostini or sliced baguette, or use vegetable sticks to dip with.  If you are going to a football party or watching the playoffs at home, this is a civil alternative to the typical football watching fare - dare I say I find, well, disgusting. (I refer to the genre of culinary catastrophes that appear every year during football season including Greasy Meatballs in Grape Jelly Sauce.)  I'll pop this in the oven just before game time, simply pulling a mere two cans off my pantry shelves, using a few staples and chopping a handful of parsley that I will tell you is perfectly fresh, thanks to a magical herb keeper Cindy found and gave me for Christmas.  Perfection!  

hot bean and artichoke dip

1 - 15 1/2 oz. can white beans, drained
1 - 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Lightly oil a baking dish or pie plate.  Place drained beans and artichokes plus garlic in a food processor bowl.  Pulse 8 times, until coarse.  Add mayonnaise, sour cream, cayenne and black peppers and process until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon zest.  Spread into the oiled dish.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered, until heated through; about 20 minutes.

Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread

Herbs are an enchanting part of spring.  In a downpour,  I brought home my first box of herb plants a few days ago from the Webster Groves Herb Society, a rather prestigious group of savvy local gardeners.  Until today, it's been too rainy to plant, but I've enjoyed the little herbs sitting on my kitchen counter.  Finally, today I couldn't wait any longer.  With just a few minutes to spare, I started clipping - lemon basil, lemon thyme, rosemary and parsley.  With the help of the food processor, in less than a minute, a creamy fragrant cheese spread was made.  The SimplyCooking® recipe for Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread uses fresh parsley and dried herbs as many people do not grow herbs or have access to fresh herbs year round.  Come spring, we urge people to use fresh herbs of any combination and amount they find appealing; but know, a generous portion of either fresh parsley or fresh basil is essential for this recipe.

This simple recipe for Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread is wonderful smeared on a tortilla.  Add a little cucumber, tomato, lettuce or other vegetables and turn it into gourmet wrap.  This, paired with a tall green tea Arnold Palmer was my lunch of choice for the entire month of August last year.    Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread can also be stirred into hot pasta, used as a dip, smeared on crostini or provide the perfect base for a summery pizza.

herb and garlic cheese spread

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 - 4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. black pepper

With a fork, hand mixer or food processor, cream the cream cheese and butter.  Add the garlic and herbs and process or mix until smooth.  Use immediately, or, cover and chill.