Like I mentioned in my last post, we’ve spent the past week moving and cleaning. Our new apartment is just 4 doors down the hall, so luckily transporting everything was just a matter of wheeling it all across the walkway. We finally finished moving and cleaning the old apartment the other night, and even though I was happy to trade grey carpet and ancient appliances for hardwood floors and a beautiful kitchen, I found myself a little emotional when I locked up for the last time. I’ve had my share of ups and downs in that apartment, and it’s bizarre to think that when I’m older and I (hopefully) own my own house, I’ll think of this tiny two-bedroom apartment as the first place that was really mine (and Preston’s, and Jeff’s).
The premature nostalgia over leaving “the [real] first kitchen” isn’t enough to overwhelm my excitement over our new unit. Even though it’s technically the same square footage, it looks HUGE and everything is just drastically nicer (no more eggshell-yellowish walls!) and homier. Several people have asked me if The First Kitchen is ending, since I’m moving out, and the answer is a resounding NO! It’s weird, but now I couldn’t imagine not writing about the food I eat or getting confused stares from neighbors when I take my dishes outside to photograph. If anything, I’m becoming more and more obsessed about food–lately I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time at the farmer’s market, and I’m planning to volunteer at the UT community gardens every Wednesday.
Anyway, these is the first recipe I made in the second first kitchen. I’m going to be upfront and say they’re not the prettiest vegetarian dish… but ground beef isn’t terribly beautiful either. These are chewy, savory, lentil-based vegan “meat”balls*. They’ve got a little bit of southwestern spiciness and go great on top of spaghetti, a salad, or in a sandwich with marinara sauce.
*Sidenote: A big pet peeve of mine is when vegan food tries to be or sound like meat. It’s not! Calling something “meat” when it’s not sets up an incredibly different set of expectations. By the same token, it’s hard to come up with a name for vegan foods that are modeled after a typically meat-based dish. Lentilballs? Give me a break. Even I, as a mature, sophisticated woman**, find that incredibly hilarious.
**Sidenote: I’m not.
Vegan meatballs Lentil meatballs Lentilballs Lentil Things, adapted from Back to Her Roots. Serves 3-4.
1/2 c. cooked lentils
1 c. cooked wheat berries (or brown rice)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. wheat germ or wheat bran
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
a pinch of allspice
1 tsp. chipotle powder (or chili powder) – NOTE: this makes it pretty spicy, so adjust to taste
1 tsp. smoked (or unsmoked) paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. maple syrup or brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
Preheat the oven to 400°. Pulse all ingredients in the food processor until most lentils are no longer whole (if you’ve made meatballs before, it should look similar). Try not to overmix. Make balls about 1.5 inches. Place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve on top of spaghetti or a salad.