Recipes // Main Dish Pasta // Cold Red Lentil Faux Meatballs

Cold Red Lentil Faux Meatballs


By Chef Maria Loi

These faux meatballs, which hail from the Aegean Islands, are extremely flavorful and satisfying, with a wonderful texture that is perfectly matched with the romaine hearts. Eat them for a nourishing lunch or serve as a vegan canapé at your next cocktail party!

Serves 8 to 10


  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (no stems)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils with 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has been absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes.
  2. Stir in the bulgur and continue to cook until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the tomato paste looks caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the tomato paste mixture to the saucepan with the lentils and bulgur and stir well to combine. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.
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