Photos Recipes

Recipe: Pesto Lentil ‘Meatballs’

Recipe and photos by Gracie Umana, Multimedia Editor

This week for Valentine’s Day, we wanted to stay in and cook a nice dinner together instead of spending a lot of money on a dinner at a local restaurant and we wanted to make something we had never thought of before. If you have a little extra time one evening and a bunch of lentils sitting around, treat yourself to this delicious meal!

We created vegetarian lentil meatballs (can be made vegan) with a creamy lemon pesto sauce to go on top. The meal paired perfectly with Crumbs Bakery‘s Herb and Garlic linguine and a sweet white wine!



2 Cups Cooked Lentils
2 chia seed “eggs”
3/4 Cup Ricotta (Tofutti brand makes vegan ricotta!)
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (check out Brazilian Nut ‘Parmesan’)
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning (from The Farmacy) – or experiment with any herbs!
Pinch of Dried or Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Each Sea Salt and Pepper
2/3 Cup Breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably)

Prep Time: About 50 minutes to prep and cook.

Serves about 4.


Making the chia seed eggs as an egg replacement is like the best option for vegans and vegetarians out there! Chia seed ‘eggs’ are super easy to make so try it out to see just how cool nature is.

To make 1 chia seed egg:

1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water. Place in fridge for 5 minutes while the seeds gel together to create the consistency of an egg. Stir and add to recipe! (For lentil meatballs, double this.)


Lentil Meatballs

Step 1: Pulverize the lentils into mush in a food processor. Then add the chia seed eggs, ricotta and parmesan cheese, and any herbs and seasonings. Mix all ingredients together. Stir in breadcrumbs and let sit for 20 minutes.


While your lentil mix is sitting, you will have time to make the lemon pesto sauce if you would like (marinara sauce, among other things, would also be great!). Here’s the recipe for a lemon pesto sauce:

1 Clove Garlic
1/4 Cup Pinenuts
Zest and Juice of one Meyer Lemon
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Cup Packed Basil Leaves
1/4 – 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. Water to thin

For the sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon and salt in a food processor and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. (The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.)

Step 2: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Check lentil mixture. If it seems to be too wet still, add in a tablespoon or two more of breadcrumbs so the balls will hold.

Step 3: Roll the lentil mixture into 1″ balls and place on baking sheet. If you want the tops to be a little more crispy, brush the balls with a little oil before putting them into the oven.

Step 4: Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes, flipping the balls about halfway through baking.


This is an awesome and healthy way to get protein in your diet while cooking yourself a meal you can feel proud of. I paired several of the lentil meatballs with the lemon pesto sauce, Crumbs Bakery Herb and Garlic linguine, and a fresh white wine. This is a perfect meal to treat yourself, your loved one, or your vegetarian roommates. It only takes an hour to make and is more than worth it based on flavor alone! (And it’s even better the next day!) Enjoy!


Gracie is a senior studying Photojournalism with a specialization in Italian language. Gracie is currently the Photography Intern for the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and is working with Project C: Clicking Creates Change. She loves warm puppies and great local and organic food… 

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