a meat-free version of my nana's recipe
This recipe is from the original archives of In Jennie’s Kitchen. I’ve chosen to preserve the post as-is, a moment in time captured, originally written in February 2010.
Ever have the feeling your best wasn't good enough...even when you know you gave it all you had? When can you feel good about just letting go?
That was the feeling I walked away with today. I've been a caretaker most of my life. I saw things kids should never see. I felt things kids should never feel. I've put up barriers to protect myself, but every now and then they come crashing down. These are good walls. Trust me. I've been through therapy. I've had my say and confronted the people who caused me pain. The walls are there because sometimes after you surrender to the situation, you need to shore yourself up to let the healing begin.
And through it all, I smile. It's not a fool's smile, though. A co-worker once asked me many years ago how I stay so upbeat—I'm legendary for my chipper personality contrary to the blue mood I'm in at the moment. I still believe what I told him back then. There are two ways to wake up in the morning. In a good mood or a bad one. It seems a no-brainer when you think about which choice to make. If I don't hold out hope that each day has some good in it, then why bother to wake at all?
I know my life is so rich. I am aware of that every morning I go into my girls' room and gently wake them. The way that Virginia pops up in her crib, all sleepy-eyed and joyfully squeals "Mama" is better than a steaming cup of coffee. The smell of Isabella's morning breath. Well, call me crazy, but I've loved it ever since she was a baby.
So what does this all have to do with lentil ricotta "meatballs" you're wondering? Well, nothing...and everything. See, if I hadn't take a risk and tried the unthinkable then they wouldn't exist. The idea blossomed out of thrift. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know my feelings about buying clean meat. The stuff free of antibiotics, added hormones and pasture-raised, the way cattle was meant to live. Well, that comes at a price of about $8 a pound here in New York City. And while I'm okay with that price and really believe it is fair, it means we don't eat meat every day. In fact, we only eat it once or twice a week as a main protein. More often, it's stretched out in dishes like a bolognese.
A few weeks ago I set out to do the unthinkable. I challenged myself to make a meat-free meatball that could match, if not rival, the tender, moist memory ingrained in my tastebuds from my regular recipe. Well, this one is a keeper my friends. Look at the pictures if you need proof. It looks like a meatball. It smells like a meatball. Most importantly, it tastes like a meatball...and it's made with lentils.
I started out with a big pot of lentils on Monday. Some went into lentil burgers. Yes, I know, I promised that recipe, and it is coming soon. I do have to tend to work, much as I'd rather be here all day long. Some more of the lentils are set aside to make these again. When I first set out on my mission, the goal was not to make a vegetarian version. It was to make a less expensive one with the same great taste. Organic lentils cost $1.39 a pound in bulk at my local healthfood store. You do the math.
Posts are free for everyone to read. Recipes are for paid subscribers only.