Vegetarian Italian Meatballs

My daughter is a Vegetarian.  Which can be challenging at times.  I think she decided to be one just to make life difficult for her husband (the cook of their family) and myself.  Maybe.  OK, maybe not.  But it sure seems like it at times.

She is a VERY picky Vegetarian too.  Any dish prepared for her can NOT have any mushrooms in it, and believe me, there are tons of recipes that use mushrooms as a base of vegetarian meals.  She hates the fungi.  She refers to them as ‘that dark chicken’ from leftovers I gave her of a restuarant dish back when she wasn’t a vegetarian.  I passed off the pasta dish to her knowing full well there were mushrooms in it.  Let’s just say she wasn’t impressed with her momma that day when she came home from work.

But back to where she is now and us trying to come up with new, inventive, tasty, NON-mushroom dishes for her to eat.

A person can eat only so much salad.  The body needs bulkier items to eat and process.  It doesn’t have to be fattening and heavy on the digestive system, but it should make the digestive system work.

Over the years I have come up with lots of veggie meals for her, mainly Mexican in origin as there is tons you can do with veggies and beans.  But I wanted to try do something Italian, like meatballs.  I scoured the internet looking for some vegetarian meatball recipes and surprisingly, came away almost empty handed.

The one fairly decent recipe I found was actually for a burger, but with the given ingredients and some that I added, I turned it into Italian Meatballs.

These are more like Matzah Balls in texture, but given the seasonings involved and they way they are cooked, they are a suitable replacement for regular meatballs with spaghetti.

This recipe is scaled to make 8 meatballs.  So multiply amounts for larger quantities.


1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp & 2 tsp uncooked Brown Rice
3 Tbsp Red Lentils
3/4 Cup Water
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Milk
1/3 Cup Dry Bread Crumbs + more for rolling
3 Tbsp. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Freshly Snipped Basil
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly Snipped Parsley
1 tsp Dried Oregano (or 2 tsp Fresh)
Hot Pepper Flakes to Taste
Salt and Pepper to Taste


Heat the Olive Oil over medium heat in a small saucepan; add the brown rice and stirring constantly, cook until the rice starts to turn golden.  It burns quickly so keep an eye on it.

Add the 3/4 cup water and the red lentils and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil; then cover and simmer until water has been absorbed (about 34-40 minutes) and mixture looks like the consistency of cooked oatmeal.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the rice/lentil mixture, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and all the spices.  In a seperate small bowl, whisk egg and milk, pour 2-3 Tbsp of the egg/milk mixture into the meatball mixture.  Combine well.  Divide and shape into 8 meatballs.


Place enough breadcrumbs in another small bowl to coat the meatballs.  Dip the meatballs in the remaining egg wash and roll in the breadcrumbs.


Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a small cookie sheet with cooking spray and place meatballs on tray.  Bake until golden, turning ocassionally to crisp all sides, about 35-45 minutes.


Prepare your favourite Spaghetti and Sauce recipes and serve hot meatballs on the side.  I haven’t tested to see how they would hold together if heated in the sauce, so best to put the hot meatballs on the dinner plate and spoon sauce over top and serve immediately.

She gave them a thumbs up!

3 thoughts on “Vegetarian Italian Meatballs

  1. you lost me at the word lentils, but good on you for being such a good mama and accomodating her eating habits. I love my meat just a little too much, protein is right up there with pasta and chocolate….oh and don’t forget the coffee

  2. Well you didn’t lose me. I was just thinking that is one very inventive and clever approach. Personally I love lentils and am sure that the taste is much more Italian than Indian in both taste and texture. I’m going to try this Deb. Thanks.

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