The real question is why would you want meatless lentil balls to pass as meatballs? They are lentil balls but the name isn’t very catchy.

Nutritionist Becky Taee likes a challenge and wanted Noni Needs to taste her latest recipe: meatless meatballs. 

How did they go down? Listen to find out.

Lentil 'Meatballs'
Lentil ‘Meatballs’



Adapted from Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, finely diced

400g tin of green lentils (drained)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 – 25g pack flat leaf parsley, chopped

35g grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper, to taste

Smoked paprika and chilli flake (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C Fan) and heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a

large sauté pan or shallow casserole over medium heat.

2. Fry onion and a pinch of salt until soft, then add garlic, Italian

seasoning and black pepper, cooking until fragrant and lightly golden and remove from heat.

3. Tip 1/2 the onion and garlic mixture into a food processor along

with lentils, paprika (if using), egg, 1 tbsp of olive oil, tomato paste, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs, and pulse to a coarse consistency.

4. Put tinned tomatoes and chilli flakes (if using) in the pan with the

remaining onion and garlic and simmer for about 10 minutes.

5. Use a spoon to scoop out about 1 – 2 tbsp of mixture and, using

damp hands, carefully form into balls.

6. Arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, drizzle with

remaining oil and bake until golden about 10-20 minutes, turning carefully half way.

7. Serve with tomato sauce and cous cous or your favourite pasta.


  • I used chive in place of parsley, can also use coriander or fresh herb of your choice
  • In place of dried Italian Herbs, use whatever is on hand eg parsley, basil, mixed herbs
  • When processing lentil mixture, keep a chunky texture… not too smooth!
  • For kids (and grown ups) who aren’t tomato-lovers, simmer sauce longer for a smoother consistency