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  • Writer's pictureEmily Yeo

Spicy Red Lentil Pasta w/ Chickpea Meatballs

Pasta is a nostalgic food for me, as it was the first dish I learned how to make for myself. When I was 9, I would cook a bowlful of pasta and pour some jarred tomato sauce over top and enjoy it for lunch! This time of year I start craving hearty and satisfying entrees that warm me up. I love comforting pasta dishes and I love them even more when they are loaded with plant-based protein and vegetables.

This vegan spicy red lentil pasta with chickpea meatball recipe sneaks in so many veggies and there is not a drop of dairy in this dish and I promise you that with all that is going on with this spicy red sauce, you will not miss it in the least. This dish is already bursting with so much flavour. Sometimes, you just need a hearty, comforting pasta dish. This recipe does the trick, delivering on flavour, simplicity and heartiness. This would make the perfect meal when you’re craving something quick, healthy, and filling, making it ideal for weeknight meals. And because it’s so flavourful and protein-packed, vegans and meat-eaters alike will love it.

It seems that lately people in the foodie world are telling us we need more and more protein in our diets. How can vegetarians and vegans, or those of us going meatless now and then, get the protein we need in each meal? Simple, add some lentils! Thanks to these little beauties, red split lentils, each serving of this simple pasta sauce packs more than 9 grams of protein! That said, I’ve come to the recent realisation that, for me, I need more. It helps me feel satisfied; it keeps me full for longer. And thus, I eat less overall. Which, for a gal who’s always fought her weight, is a pretty big deal. I would have never before thought to look at sauce as a protein source, but I’m so glad I went there.

I love red lentils for so many reasons and in this dish I love how they basically disappear into the spicy red sauce making it creamy and thick. The red lentils add an egg’s worth of protein to the sauce. Red lentils add a natural nutty and sweet flavour and best of all lentils are fibre, mineral, and vitamin rich, a powerful food for any diet, from vegan to meat-inclusive. Lentils are an inexpensive and healthful protein source; and is free of saturated fat and cholesterol. They’re also a plant-based source of iron and a good source of potassium and folate.

Although I love to experiment and vary my clean eating meals regularly, this pasta is one of those recipes I cook again and again. Most o‍f its ingredients are sitting in my pantry anyway. And what better to pair the pasta with than vegan meatballs! There’s no better time to share a heart-healthy recipe for homemade veggie balls. Plus, instead of paying $5 for like 3 servings of store-bought meatballs, this recipe makes several dozen for only a couple dollars’ worth of ingredients. They are so crispy, they blew my mind!

I have to admit that I’ve always had a soft spot for store-bought meatless vegan meatballs. The kind that are made of isolated-soy-something-or-other, but have the most amazing chewy texture and savoury flavour. I reserve those for an occasional treat, but honestly, I crave them a lot more often than that. Unfortunately, my experience with homemade vegan meatballs in the past has been that they taste nice on their own, but disintegrate in sauce. Even worse is if you end up with meatless meatballs that are mushy inside. Meh. Thankfully, after a lot of tinkering around in the kitchen, I’ve come up with a vegan meatball recipe that is worthy of sauce, and completely rivals those vegetarian meatballs in the freezer aisle.

I’ve gotta say, I’m completely in love with this recipe. These vegan meatballs have been fantastic simmered in classic red sauce, teriyaki sauce, or just eaten on their own with a little ketchup for a lazy dinner. I don’t monitor my protein intake, but for those of you who do, these things are packed with protein thanks to the brown rice and chickpeas. They are also whole foods, plant-based compatible due to being completely oil- and sugar-free. Take your meatless meatballs to the next level and give this recipe a try!


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