the second kitchen

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).

Preston stares in awe at the second first kitchen. A working stove! A dishwasher from this millennium! Counter space galore (sort of)!

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.

note: vegan meatballs are not vegan anymore if you smother them in melty cheese. mmmmm.

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.

never one to waste food, i used the photoshoot "prop" to make a lentilball lettuce wrap. two thumbs up. highly recommend.


About Natalie (The First Kitchen)

I like to eat lots of plants, bake cookies, and explore Austin.
This entry was posted in entree, grain, legumes, my life, side dish, vegan, vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to the second kitchen

  1. jl says:

    volunteering – the tea of good will

  2. Mmm, this look super tasty. I’ll guess I’ll have to find some wheat berries..or did you make yours with the rice? inquiring minds want to know ;)

    • Hi Paige! I used wheat berries, because they’re my new grain obsession! They’re so chewy and they have lots of fiber/protein. I used the hard red wheat variety. Generally I just boil a cup (dry) for an hour at the beginning of the week, then throw them on salads or use them in recipes for the rest of the week. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  3. jackie says:

    I hate mock meat or referring to stuff that’s not meat as meat. I usually am turned off to eating it too. Have you tried the chickpea patties from veganomicon? I have a feeling you’d like them and they’re very simple to make. The recipe calls for vital wheat gluten but I didn’t use any and they turned out awesome.

  4. Pingback: hazelnut brown butter cake | The First Kitchen

  5. Ananda says:

    well, in other languages the name of this this things has nothing to do with the “meat”. For example, the same dish in Russia called “frikadelki”, in India – “kofta” and so on. … so nothing to worry about =)

  6. Elias Hickel says:

    Our society is set up to regard meat eating as the ‘norm’. Those people who choose a vegetarian diet are often thought of as difficut, ‘trying to be different’ or just odd. A common nutritional fallacy is that meat and animal products must be consumed in order to maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet.^

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