Vegan Lentil Tempeh Meatballs


I was pretty happy with the lentil mushroom meatballs adapted from OhMyVeggies, but I wanted a meatier texture. I decided to change around the recipe some more, swapping the mushrooms for tempeh to see if that helped. In the end, I fused together this recipe with the Lentil Mushroom Meatballs recipe.

The resulting meatballs did have a firmer texture, with chewy, nubbly bits that made them seem meatier, somehow.

Lentil Tempeh Meatballs

1 cup water
1/2 cup dried lentils
2 medium or 1 large onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
olive oil, enough to coat bottom of pan
8 ounces tempeh, cut in 1/4″ cubes
salt, pepper, to taste (start with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper)
2 Tbl. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
pinch poultry seasoning
2 Tbl. red wine
1 cup oats
2 Tbl. ketchup

Boil lentils in water for ten minutes, then drain. The lentils will not be tender–that is ok.

Saute the onion in oil in large pot (6 qt Dutch oven) until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and keeping cooking for another couple of minutes while you dice the tempeh. Add the tempeh and keep cooking, stirring often. A fond may form on the bottom of the pot (you know, that carmelized brown stuff that accumulates on the bottom of pots when you saute). You want the tempeh to brown a little, but most of the browning may be on the bottom of the pot. Add the soy sauce (just 1 Tbl. at first) to deglaze (dissolve the brown stuff from the bottom of the pot). If the carmelized gunk on the bottom of the pot sticks stubbornly, add a couple of Tbl. of water and stir to dissolve the stuff off the pot bottom and then boil off the excess liquid. Add the other seasonings: oregano, poultry seasoning, and more soy sauce as needed to salt to taste. Add the wine and boil off the alcohol. Off heat, stir in the lentils, oats and ketchup. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Puree the mixture in a food processor. The mixture is not supposed to be completely smooth, but a little chunky–you want some texture.

Shape the mixture into small meatballs. Place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet and spray the tops and sides with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for a half hour. You can heat the meatballs in sauce at this point, although I think the texture of the meatballs is even better when they are allowed to cool and rest in the refrigerator for a while before being reheated in the sauce.

For meatballs and spaghetti, heat tomato sauce in a medium pot until hot, then add the meatballs just to heat through. Serve over spaghetti.

Tags: , , , ,

9 Responses to “Vegan Lentil Tempeh Meatballs”

  1. Vegan Saucy Asian Meatballs | Pragmatic Attic Says:

    […] whole lot of this and that . . . . « Vegan “Cheese” Kale Chips Vegan Lentil Tempeh Meatballs […]

  2. Leora Says:

    So the base is basically lentils, tempeh and oats? Might be worth trying.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      The flavor profile is similar to the stuffed acorn squash recipe you liked. Basically, if you have meatball craving, this is a healthier option.


  3. Prag Says:

    amazing how you’d never now from the picture it’s vegan, about the tase…;

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      True . . . it looks like regular meatballs, but it definitely does not taste like regular meatballs. It tastes very good, but you wouldn’t think you were eating beef.


  4. Leora Says:

    Oh, I just bought the tempeh, and then I saw I need lentils … I just made some red beans. I’m going to cheat a little and make it with red beans. The only other cheating I may do will poultry seasoning …

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Interesting . . . . I’m not sure how it will work with the red beans. I can give you some lentils if you like . . . . And poultry seasoning, although that is not such a key ingredient.


  5. Leora Says:

    I made it, with the lentils (I did have them). I can’t say it was a big hit with the family. My son liked them when they first came out of the oven. The sauce seemed to make them mushy. I ate what was left.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Oh, Leora, I’m sorry the meatballs didn’t go over better. Thank you for giving these a shot and sharing your experience with it. I was happy with these meatballs, but I will experiment to see if I can address what you are saying about texture.

      For what it is worth, I discovered that the meatballs are not mushy at all if the meatballs are made ahead, refrigerated and then reheated in the sauce. It is kind of like with cooked rice, where the starch gets harder from refrigeration. But, I can see where making ahead might not be so convenient, so the question is how to tweak the recipe.

      I have been wondering about adding gluten to the meatball mixture to make a chewier, firmer texture. Vegan meatballs are so much healthier than beef meatballs, that it is worth it to me to keep experimenting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: