Lentil “Meat” Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower

December 2, 2015

Lentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipe

CONRATULATIONS. You must be so excited. If you are reading this right now, there is reason to celebrate. Guess what it means? YOU’RE ALIVE. You’re heart is beating, your brain is thinking, and with each moment that passes of your existence – you are experiencing a miracle. Life. You get to put on clothes today, feel the warmth of a sweater, maybe the cool breeze of the outdoors. There might even be an opportunity for you to eat some chocolate! Think about that. You are a living, breathing, feeling, miracle who just may get to eat some chocolate today. Can I get an AMEN? The rest is all fuzzy details, the important thing to remember is there is reason to celebrate. Even in the mundane, there is something glorious to behold. Don’t let the news, pessimists, TV shows, or even your own thoughts tell you different.

I’m not sure where this is coming from inside of me today. Scott and I are on day 5 of working 7 days straight since Thanksgiving. We didn’t get a holiday weekend, and we have been separated from one another, friends, and family during this work-your-brains-out-party-later “stint”. Yet, here I am, SO EXCITED. I get to work today! What a gift it is to have work. I haven’t spent more than a few minutes in the same room as my husband in a few days – but I have a husband! Who loves me. Shut the front door. I’m so excited. And this Friday? This Friday will be our first day off together, and it just so happens to be our 4 year wedding anniversary (!!!) and we are going snow shoeing (!!!) and it will be my first time (!!!) I AM SO EXCITED. But today I recipe test, I write, I edit, and I smile – because we have something to celebrate folks. We are alive.

Lentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipeLentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipeLentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipeLentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipe

As if we needed another reason other than our brain firing crazy signals throughout our body performing miracles right and left to celebrate, I have a recipe worth taking a moment to throw a special party for – I finally perfected my vegan “meat” balls (!!!). Made with lentils and packed with so much flavor I could pop them in my mouth all on their own. Baking gives the “meat” balls the perfect texture on the inside. Followed by a simmer in a smack-me-its-so-simple marinara sauce, making the outside juicy and rich with flavor. I’m not a big noodle fan (I have my moments) so I went with a creamed cauliflower for the base. Almond milk and good quality olive oil make the cauliflower rich and “buttery”, perfectly seasoned with salt, and give me a spoon – I could devour the entire batch alone. Its that good. This meal is everything cozy about December, and the ever approaching winter season. Make a big batch and keep the extra baked “meat” balls in the freezer for a quick, hearty dinner. And make sure to eat some chocolate today.

Lentil "Meat" Balls w/ Easy Marinara + Mashed Cauliflower | by Faring Well #vegan #recipe

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tag photos you post of my recipes with #FWmakers so I can see!

Makes 32 meatballs (8 servings) and enough marinara and cauliflower for each serving needed.

1 cup French green lentils, dry
3 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons flax meal
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basi
1 teaspoon dried oregano
a dash of cayenne pepper

mashed cauliflower
2 cups raw cauliflower florets (per serving)
2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened almond milk (per serving)
1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil (per serving)
salt to taste

easy marinara
1 cup organic tomato sauce (per serving)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (per serving)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (per serving)
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by making the meatballs. Combine the lentils and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until all of the broth is absorbed by the lentils (about 40 minutes). Set aside to steam (still covered) once finished.

Combine the flax and hot water in a small dish. Set aside to thicken. Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients for the meatballs in a medium size mixing bowl. Add the flax mixture and one fourth of the cooked lentils to the mixing bowl and mash the remaining lentils in the pot with a potato masher, or puree with a stick blender. Add the mashed/pureed lentils to the mixing bowl and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a tablespoon sized cookie scoop (or a spoon) form the meatballs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. There should be 32 in all. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, prep the mashed cauliflower and marinara sauce. Add the ingredients for the marinara (measuring out each for the amount of servings you are wishing to make, as noted in the ingredients list) to a saucepan on the stove. Wait until 10 minutes are left for the meatballs in the oven to begin simmering the sauce. Add the desired amount of baked meatballs to the simmering sauce, turning to coat, and cover to let simmer on low for 5 minutes before serving.

Add the cauliflower to a pot on the stove and cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain the water and add the remaining ingredients. Puree with a stick blender until smooth, divide between plates, and top with the simmered meatballs – spooning more sauce onto the plates as desired.

Enjoy right away while hot, and let any remaining meatballs cool completely on the counter. Then place them in a freezer-safe container (or bag) and store in the freezer. To re-heat, simply wrap the meatballs in foil (creating a little foil bag) and place in the oven at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes (or until you hear them sizzling).


Happy December - XO


  • Reply Abby @ The Frosted Vegan December 2, 2015 at 7:28 am

    YAY! These are totally worth celebrating and shouting from the rooftops about :) Happy happy day and enjoy your Friday dear, you earned it!

    • Reply Faring Well December 2, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Oh Abby, I adore you. Thank you friend! You have a lovely rest of the week + weekend as well <3

  • Reply Megan December 2, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Never commented before but I absolutely loved this message. I totally needed to hear it too. Thank you so much. Long live chocolate too. :) And the recipe looks amazing!

    • Reply Faring Well December 2, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Oh Megan you made me smile so big this morning, thank you for commenting – I’m so happy to hear :). You have a wonderful day now lady! xo

  • Reply Arthur in the Garden! December 2, 2015 at 8:45 am


  • Reply Emilie @ The Clever Carrot December 2, 2015 at 9:09 am

    First of all I’m a lentil freak and 2ndly, I’ve attempted the lentil meatballs thing before, but haven’t been thrilled with the results. Look forward to trying these. Don’t you just love cauliflower mash? Yum!! Happy anniversary! xo

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Oh I hope you do get to try them and that you and your fam love them Emilie! And I know right, cauli-mash is my favorite. SO GOOD. And thank you tons for the anniversary congrats! Hope you are having a gorgeous weekend <3

  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens December 2, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Yes!! I remind myself of this every single day. My friend gifted me with a thankful journal for my birthday this year and it has me write down 3 things I am grateful for everyday. It is such a gift to be able to see, breathe, and live! Meatballs were one of my favourite things to eat before going veg, these sound so perfect and comforting! xo

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:04 am

      That is so sweet and such a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing Genevieve! And also thank you for the recipe love, comforting they are indeed <3

  • Reply Christine December 2, 2015 at 9:10 am

    These look great! I think that I’ll make them for dinner tonight.

    It was fun to see your name yesterday on the blog “My New Roots,” where Sarah cited you as having provided inspiration for her recipe. You’re such an inspirer!

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Aw yay! I hope you got to/get to, they are my new cozy fall/winter fave. And oh my goodness thanks for telling me about the MNR shout out, I immediately popped over there and melted, I can’t believe she mentioned me – made my week! Thank you Christine, you are such an uplifting person, I hope you are having a great weekend! xo

  • Reply Shanna | Kiss My Bowl December 2, 2015 at 9:23 am

    HIP HIP FOR BEING ALIVE! I love it! Thanks for this very centering reminder! How wonderful to have that arrive in my inbox this morning. I’m so thankful for that! You are so wonderful!

    Also, these lentil balls? Woman, they look friggin’ amazing. I love the chunky onion bits. Yum!

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Aw Shanna! Yay! You are the best, you are so welcome – and thank you <3. And eeee yes! I am so in love with these. I wish I could deliver a plate to you all today. Here's to hoping you get to make them soon! Hugs!

  • Reply Lauren December 2, 2015 at 10:08 am

    This looks like the most perfect comfort food meal! I roasted some cauliflower last night and was reminded how much I love that unassuming vegetable. My mom used to make mashed cauliflower all the time and I don’t make it nearly enough. Thanks for the lovely message. Life is good, isn’t it? :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Ah life is so good. Thank you Lauren <3. And glad you love cauliflower as much as I do too!

  • Reply Leah M @ love me, feed me December 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

    So I woke up in a blehck mood this morning, but this post just put the biggest smile on my face! Thank you so much for the reminder <3
    Aaaaand these meatballs are amazing and I will definitely be whipping these up asap!

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Aw yay! I’m so so happy to hear that Leah. And thank you for the recipe love! I really hope you get to make and enjoy them soon, they really are easier to whip up than it may appear! Happy weekend-ing!

  • Reply Shelley | Sevengrams December 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    OH Jessie, this is just so lovely. You’re right that sometimes we get so caught up we forget to just appreciate what we have, where we are, and who we are with. A snowshoe filled day with your main squeeze sounds perfect — have a fabulous time (you’ll love it!) and then come home and devour a giant bowl of these meatballs because they are PERFECTTTTT.

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Aw thank you Shelley! You’re the best. Snowshoeing was amazing (!!!) new favorite activity for this winter. So much more affordable than snowboarding, and I still get to hike through the winter time – winning! Thank you for the recipe love too dear friend. I hope you are having a gorgeous weekend and getting into the holiday spirit! xo

  • Reply danielle is rooting the sun December 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    i’m all over it jessie! i have been dreaming of lentils lately, and this is so satisfying and soul-warming. i’m heavily into celebrating life – big moments and small dreamy quiet ones. this meal is a winter celebration in itself! wishing you the loveliest anniversary ♥

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Thank you dearly sweet Danielle – you just make me smile left and right! I hope you are having a weekend full of small dreamy moments. xo

  • Reply Grace December 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Jessie! I love your crazy beautiful outlook on life! And speaking of crazy beautiful – these ‘meat’ balls are everything! You genius, lovely thing you!

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Ah Grace! You always make me smile ear to ear with your comments. Thank you! I adore your sweet spirit and outlook as well, and your love for this recipe just made my day. Hope you are having a relaxing Sunday friend! xo

  • Reply cat | like bread for sorrow December 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    This is so wonderfully written, and a much needed reminder for me right now. You put it in such a simple way, yet it really moved me in its profundity. It is so important that as we grow up/grow older, we don’t lose that sense of wonder about those simple truths of life. We all need to pause and marvel at everything that is in and around us once in a while, to remind ourselves that we are here, and that in itself is, indeed, a wonderful miracle. Thank you for this. :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Cat, thank YOU for your comment. You put it all so well. Its so true and important to do, and I’m just grateful for every moment.

  • Reply kateland December 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    i am eating a bowl of this right now, and i applaud you! so tasty! and so looking forward to leftovers tomorrow for lunch! x

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Kateland! That is amazing. So so happy to hear! YAY!

  • Reply joan December 3, 2015 at 5:51 am

    We definitely should remind ourselves of this everyday! Thank you for your written words.
    I love your “Buds”. :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Aw thank you Joan. And glad you love the “buds” too, hehe! <3

  • Reply KJ December 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Happy Anniversary!!! :) I hope you have a great time snowshoeing and enjoy your time together! These meatballs sound soo good! I wouldn’t have thought to serve them over a cauliflower mash! Good creativity! :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Thanks so so much KJ! We had a glorious time. And seriously try the cauliflower mash sometime, its magical! <3

      • Reply KJ | Omnomherbivore December 7, 2015 at 9:55 pm

        I have a head in the fridge that I didn’t use in a salad… its a sign! :)

        • Reply KJ | Omnomherbivore December 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

          Let’s be clear… a head of cauliflower. lol. not just a head :p

  • Reply Sophie | The Green Life December 3, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Ahh Jessie, I just love your beautiful, positive, cheerful spirit! You are one of a kind, lady. I wish you the loveliest day with your man. Snowshoeing is one of my favourite things to do in the winter! Happy anniversary to you two. I’m totally drooling over these meatballs (!!!) xo

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Sophie! Thank you! You are the sweetest, we had such a wonderful time. I see why you love it so much! Its like hiking in the winter – YAY. Hope you are having a cozy weekend friend! xo

  • Reply Emily | Gather & Dine December 4, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I have so much admiration for your drive, your hard-working spirit, your heart to always give thanks. Just love that you can find so much to be thankful for in the everyday. Life is indeed such a miracle!
    We love all things lentil and these look so so wonderful. Hearty, comforting, and nourishing. and Happy Anniversary! Love to you!

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Oh Emily, thank you! I fall short so often, but in the moments of thankfulness I can’t help but explode with joy. Life is such a gift! I hope you and your family get to make and enjoy these sometime this season and love them as much as we do :) popping over to read your newest recipe on those spiced nuts! YUM! xo

  • Reply JOAN HARTWIG December 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for your up lifting words. They are really need in Southern California today.

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Oh you are so welcome Joan, hope you are having a happy weekend down there in southern CA! <3

  • Reply Alana December 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I just want to hug you right now. Thank you for this timely post. You have reaffirmed my desire to cherish and appreciate each and every day. We are SO lucky! Thanks for this beautiful reminder. xo

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Aw Alana thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to see you again and give you a big squeeze! xo

  • Reply Becky - Meandering Foodies December 5, 2015 at 2:42 am


  • Reply Jodi December 5, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Oh I am alive! And am I ever excited! It’s saturday, I just made pancakes and I’ve been meaning to stop by FW to leave you a little love note, when I noticed your shortbread is up today too. Life is indeed grand and its so the little things that count. Thank you Jessie. I love this dish, its so cozy – I’m hoping the weather will drop soon so I can finally turn on my fake fire place and snuggle up with this plate and a good movie. Happy December my friend x

    • Reply Faring Well December 6, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Aw Jodi I adore you! Life is SO grand. And you radiate sunshine always. So so grateful for you. And thank you for the recipe love too friend! I hope it does chill down over there soon so you can do just that. Happy Sunday lady! xo

  • Reply Eva @ foodbasedonemotions.com December 9, 2015 at 12:06 am

    Honestly, these vegan meatballs look waaaay better than
    the “real”, definitely trying this, since I’m nowadays trying to
    experiment with veganism.. + beautiful pictures!!

    • Reply Faring Well December 17, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Yay! So glad you did, I saw your comment below and YOU RULE.

  • Reply sarah December 10, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Made this meal tonight and it was so delicious!! Thank you for the recipe and for your wise words :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

      That is so wonderful! I’m so happy to hear, thank you Sarah! <3

  • Reply Natasha December 17, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I made this today and they were soo good!! I replaced the oat flour for a gf floor (cause i don”t have a food processor) and was afraid they’ll be too… hard, but after finish them in the sauce they were so soft and perfect, i loved them. I also replaced the flax with a goo made with tapioca starch and it worked just fine! :)

    • Reply Faring Well December 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thats amazing! So glad to hear. Thanks for writing to tell me Natasha! I always find it so cool when people do. So happy you loved them <3

  • Reply Kerry Crowley-Lamore December 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    My mouth is watering! I can’t wait to make these. Thank you!

  • Reply Katy Hubbard March 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I just discovered your blog today and I’m so jazzed about making this for dinner. You also brightened up my day because heck yeah I’m alive and with my kids. Thanks for the reality check! :)

  • Reply Amanda April 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Looks Yummy! I’m going to make these tonight for me and my boyfriend (who hates veggies). I’m going to just make the lentil-balls and sauce and put them on sub buns. Should be good!

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