This was supposed to be today’s post:
The pie had other plans.
Easy as pie?
I really wanted to be mad when I opened the oven door, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Yesterday, was one of those days and I wasn’t surprised in the least. Why wouldn’t the pie explode?
Murphy’s Law – when you forget to put oven liners in a new oven, the sticky pie will erupt like a volcano! Luckily, it came off easily after the sugars cooled. I used the oven scraper tool like a champ. As for the pie dish, I think it will need to soak in acid for 6 years. No big deal.
Obviously, I had to Instagram this pie fail. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that other people love to laugh at fails on the internet. I know I do. Speaking of which, I clicked on the #piefail hashtag and laughed so hard I almost cried. Did you know pumpkin and apple pies can explode? I’m really happy to contribute to the collection. I’ll be checking in with it throughout pie season!
Anyway, tomorrow we leave on a much appreciated getaway and I really didn’t want to end on an epic pie fail, so I was up late last night and at it again all morning and afternoon until I nailed this lentil mushroom ball recipe. Who needs pie when you have this festive dish?
These lentil balls couldn’t be more festive. They are packed with green lentils, cremini mushrooms, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and kale! Oh MY.
Oh, and a tablespoon of sherry vinegar takes it over the top on the delicious scale. If you haven’t cooked with sherry vinegar before, I beg you to try some! It goes so well with anything mushroom. BFFs forever.
I thought a fresh cranberry + pear sauce would go nicely too. The light sweetness of the sauce is a lovely compliment to the earthiness of the lentil mushroom balls. If cranberry sauce isn’t your thing, I suggest pairing it with my mushroom gravy. I haven’t tried this pairing yet, but I suspect it would be a nice option! Now all we need is a little holiday music pumping from the speakers and some Home Alone on the TV…
Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls with Cranberry-Pear Sauce
These lentil mushroom balls are festive, filling, and a great vegan protein option for your holiday feast! I paired it with a lightly sweet cranberry-pear sauce, but if you aren't a cranberry fan my vegan gravy would be a nice option too. You can most likely prepare the lentil balls in advance. Just shape the balls and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for no longer than 12-24 hours, bring to room temperature, and then bake as usual (of course, remove plastic wrap first). The cranberry sauce can be made a couple days in advance as well. I don't suggest skipping the sherry vinegar; it really makes this lentil mixture come to life and it pairs so well with the mushrooms. Lastly, it's important to (very) finely chop all the vegetables and walnuts so everything sticks together.
for the lentil balls:
- 1/2 cup uncooked green lentils
- 1 cup walnuts halves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 heaping cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms (one 8-oz package)
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup finely chopped destemmed kale leaves
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ground flax + 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats, ground into a coarse flour
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the cranberry sauce:
- 2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
- 1 ripe pear, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- small pinch fine grain sea salt
- Add lentils into a medium pot along with 2 and 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, adding more water if the lentils dry out. Once the lentils are fork tender, remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until it's a coarse paste with some lentil pieces still intact. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325F. Toast the chopped walnuts for 9-12 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. After toasting, increase oven temp to 350F.
- In a very large skillet or wok, add the oil along with the finely chopped mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt. Saute over medium-high heat for about 7-9 minutes, until most of the water cooks off. Now add the kale, toasted walnuts, cranberries, herbs, and sherry vinegar. Stir until combined and continue cooking for another few minutes until the kale is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the mashed lentils when ready.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water. Stir for 10 seconds and then immediately pour into the skillet mixture. Stir to combine. Now stir in the 1/2 cup oat flour until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be fairly moist and sticky. If it's way too sticky, add a bit more oat flour. If it's dry, add another tbsp of water.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape lentil mixture into balls and pack tightly with your hands so they hold together. Place on baking sheet an inch or so apart. Repeat for the rest. If the mixture is too hot to handle, let it cool for a bit first and then proceed.
- Bake the lentil balls at 350F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, gently flip over, and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until golden and firm on the exterior.
- For the sauce: Add the cranberries, pear, and maple syrup into a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes until thickened. Use a potato masher to mash up the pear.
1) If your mixture seems dry (and this could be the case if the lentils are cooked too long), feel free to add a touch of water to moisten the mixture enough so it adheres. 2) To make oat flour, add the rolled oats into a blender and blend on high until a flour forms. Alternatively, you can use 1/2 cup oat flour if you already have some on hand.
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
I look forward to thawing the leftovers when I return. :)
I’ll see you next time from sunny Arizona! In the meantime, you can follow our adventures (and pie fails) on Instagram, as always.
I absolutely love your website and cookbook!
Do you have any suggestions for a substitute for the mushrooms in these?
Hoping to make these for Christmas and dinner but my family won’t eat mushrooms!
I would just add the mushrooms and not tell them! If they are finely chopped you can’t see them and as a mushroom lover myself, I definitely can’t taste them. The spices are the dominate feature in these lentil balls and the second strongest flavor are the lentils. Just call them lentil walnut balls and they’ll be none the wiser!
do you think this could be made into a loaf?
Can the lentil, mushroom walnut balls be made into a loaf instead? If yes, how long would you recommend the baking time to be? Can’t wait to try them.
What vinegar should I use if I can’t find sherry vinegar?
this looks so good! i am going to make them for christmas but was wondering if i could use anything instead of the flex bc im dutch and dont know where to get it .
keep on being awesome
greatings from ducks :)
I love all your recipes, so I was really excited to try this, but they were not very good. I followed the directions pretty closely, but I did not include the sherry vinegar? Maybe that was the missing ingredient that could’ve made it. but I had to throw them away, a lot of effort put into something that wasn’t even very edible… sorry but this was a miss….I found the texture and taste off.
Went went wrong with my lentil balls!
I was so excited for this recipe, I was even out on Christmas eve at the only store in town that carried sherry wine vinegar, but I bought it in the nick of time before the store closed for Christmas.
So much potential, and they turned out so dry. Could it be that they were dry because I prepped them ahead of time (about 4 hours ahead) and placed them in the fridge unwrapped before baking them. That was my epic fail, I think.
Please advise, I would like to try to make these again.
This recipe is wonderful! Although I did make small changes to reduce the sugar. I reduced the cranberries down to 1/4 of a cup and I reduced the maple syrup for the sauce down to 1/3 of a cup. In case you are interested, I found out the nutrition info, using 1/4 of a cup of cranberries instead of 1/3, via myfitnesspal.com nutrition calculator. I made 20 lentil balls and for 4 servings of 5 lentil balls, there are 646 calories, 23 grams of fat (those walnuts really get ya), 24 grams of protein, and 11 grams of sugar. I did not calculate the nutrition for the sauce. Thank you for this marvelous meal! I will definitely make it again!
That’s the kind of fat you do need in your diet, walnut fat.omega 3 baby. Eat fat to get things talks about how the right fats improve satiety and thus helps you eat less by eating healthier, more nutrient-dense foods such as walnuts and lentils and mushrooms etc. These vegan balls are very tasty and nutritious. My challenge is to get the kids to try them.
OMG, So Delicious!,f Not vegan, but I make meals for a couple that are vegan. Made these Lentil Walnut Balls serving with a side of barley, mushroom gravy ( I used another recipe) and a wilted kale salad. I tasted one of the lentil balls and it was so satisfying. My son who is a devote carniviore, loved them. It’s a cold winter day and I’m making them today for my family. Thank you for your recipes, I just ordered your cookbook.
Wondering if you have tried this in a pie crust?
Love your work and am continually inspired by it! :) Thank you!
If I wanted to make these the day before a dinner could I form the balls and keep them in the fridge till the next day and then bake them? Or should I bake them and just keep them in the fridge? And then of course just pop them in the oven to heat up that day.
Could I use whole wheat all purpose flour instead of oat flour? And rasberry vinegar instead of sherry vinegar? Ps- love the crispy quinoa cakes- substituted chia seeds for flax (adjusted measurements as per your suggestion in the comments below) and they turned out great.
Hello, could I use whole wheat all purpose flour instead of the oat flour? And could I use raspberry veer vinegar instead of sherry vin?
Hi, I know this post is from a while ago so hopefully I’ll get a response.I have a grain free kiddo in my house. would this work with some other kind of flour like chickpea or something like that? In place of the oats. Thanks! Looking forward to trying them.
I have made these several times and every time they come out dry and chewy. Not sure what am I doing wrong.
Thank you for the amazing recipe! These were delicious AND they held their shape! As a non-vegetarian (but who eats very limited meat), I was really impressed by how hearty, filling, and flavourful these were!
I’m glad the recipe was a hit, Alex! :)
Can these be made a day ahead? Thanks!
Is it possible to freeze the lentil balls or cranberry sauce for say 3-4 days before???
I made this last Thanksgiving and it was a hit. We’re having Thanksgiving on Saturday. I’d like to make it the day before, but will it be okay?
Have you ever used Red Wine vinegar instead? I don’t have sherry vinegar and am making these today…!
Hi Ann Marie, I haven’t tried it myself, but for a sherry vinegar-substitute I would definitely suggest you give red wine a go! Try adding it slowly, to taste. I hope this helps, and would love to know how it turns out.
Wow! Thank you for the speedy response. I will let you know how it goes. Also making your Maple Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes as well. Love your recipes and blog. Congrats on the new addition to the family :)
Just wanted to let you know that the Lentil Mushroom balls turned out great with the red wine vinegar (I used half a tablespoon). And the cranberry/pear sauce is a perfect compliment to them. Definitely making again for Christmas.
Any alternatives to mushrooms in this recipe? I have a guest who hates mushrooms. Thanks!
Great recipe !! Every body loved it, even those who dont like mushrooms!
I’m so happy to hear it was a hit, Nuria!
Hi, for the meatballs, can you replace the lentils with quinoa, if so how much would you use and if the measurement is for cooked or uncooked. Thanks.
Hi Susan, I’m really not sure. I’m worried the quinoa might make them a bit more crumbly (if they aren’t quite as binding as the lentils). If you try anything please let us know!
I’ve never made this recipe before and I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on subbing the kale for swiss chard (we got a lot of chard in our CSA this week). Thanks!
Hey Danielle, I can’t see why that wouldn’t work as chard is quite “sturdy” like kale. I guess the biggest factor would be that you like the flavour of chard as it can be a bit strong (but then again, so can kale!) If you try anything please let us know how it goes.
I made these last year and loved them, but had the time to make them fresh. Unfortunately this year things are running a bit more chaotic, any idea how they’d be made ahead, shaped, frozen and thawed and then baked???
Hey Cali, So glad to hear you enjoyed them last year! I’m so sorry, but I haven’t made these in advance before so I’m not sure if they would dry out or not. If you try anything please let us know how it goes. :)
Already planning out my Christmas meal :| It’ll be the first time I cook for everyone in my family and I want them to enjoy their first plant based feast! My brother-in-law is allergic to nuts so I was wondering if you could recommend a substitute- do you think sunflower or pumpkin seeds would be good ?
Hey Emilie, Wow, that’s amazing you’re planning so much in advance. I’m sure you will nail it! I haven’t tried a sub for walnuts, but I think roasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) could work. I would probably test them in advance just to be sure though. If you try anything out please let us know how it goes!
Hi! I just love love love your website and cook books. I have a challenge question for you; I really want to make these for T-day but I have some folks who do not eat mushrooms. Do you have some ideas for a substitute?
Thanks for the love Stacy! Subbing mushrooms is a tough one. What about finely chopped zucchini? I’m sorry I can’t be of more help!
Yummy change from other of the lentil loaf recipes I’ve cooked on previous thanksgivings! I omitted the cranberries because I don’t really enjoy the sweet taste in these kinds of dishes (lentil balls, lentil loaf, etc). The walnuts added a nice solid texture to what might otherwise have been a pretty soft ball.
Hey Tara, I’m so happy these were a hit! Thanks for your feedback.
These are delicious! We’ve been having them every week. Any recommendations on the best way to freeze for future use?
Hey CL, You can store the uncooked balls in the fridge (tightly wrapped up on a plate) for up to 36 hours before baking, so there’s less fuss the day of a big meal. The uncooked balls can also be frozen in a freezer-safe bag for 1 to 2 weeks. To bake, simply pop the frozen balls on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 33 minutes (they need roughly 7 to 10 minutes more bake time when baking from frozen). Hope this helps!
Currently in the process of making this recipe – it smells delicious! We were going to make the cranberry sauce but found the directions a little confusing. How much water do you usually add to boil it down? And do you just move the pear to the side to avoid mashing the cranberries too? Thanks!
Hey Lauren, I’m sorry you found the directions confusing! I’m sure this is too late now as I see you wrote in on Christmas and it’s Boxing Day now. You don’t need to add any water when cooking them down. The maple syrup tends to coat everything enough. When it comes time to mash the pear (if you choose to do so..it’s optional), many of the cranberries will be broken down at this point, so you don’t need to move it to the side. I hope this helps!
I made this recipe for my family and extended non vegan family for Christmas Eve dinner. WOW!! Amazing! Not a morsel was left behind. Thank you for this. I’m currently baking more to take to a New Years Eve Party.
Can these be made ahead and frozen?
Hey Sara, I’m so glad these were a hit! You can store the uncooked balls in the fridge (tightly wrapped up on a plate) for up to 36 hours before baking, so there’s less fuss the day of a big meal. The uncooked balls can also be frozen in a freezer-safe bag for 1 to 2 weeks. To bake, simply pop the frozen balls on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 33 minutes (they need roughly 7 to 10 minutes more bake time when baking from frozen).
I also have an updated version of this recipe here: http://ohsheglows.com/2017/11/23/bread-free-stuffing-balls/
I was really excited to try these but they turned out so dry….. I’d like to try again, can you tell me do I drain the lentils? I did, could this have been my mistake?
Hey Aerin, Oh no I’m so sorry! Yes you were right in draining the lentils. Did you happen to see the link to my “updates/revised” lentil ball recipe in the post? http://ohsheglows.com/2017/11/23/bread-free-stuffing-balls/ I’d recommend giving this one a whirl sometime :)
The cranberry sauce was the best I ever made. Good combination of cranberries and pears.
I’d love to try these but unfortunately our little guy has an allergy to lentils. Has anyone tried another type of bean like chickpeas or black beans for this recipe? How did it turn out?
Can I sub sunflower seeds for the walnuts? Trying to think of but free options for lunchbox starting preschool!
This will be my 3rd Thanksgiving making this recipe with my sister. We absolutely love it, its a much nicer and homemade alternative to a store-bought vegan holiday loaf. Totally encourage everyone to try it out.
Made these for my first plant based Thanksgiving dinner. They were awesome!
Made these for Thanksgiving yesterday and WOW. Blown away. They took a lot of prep time but they were absolutely delish!! These would be fantastic as veggie burgers too. The cranberry pear sauce was so good everyone was into it as an accompaniment to their meals and for their bread and cheese. This recipe is a keeper!
I couldnt find sherry vinegar or oat flour at my grocery store. Any recommendations for substitutions for each of those?
Was wondering if I could freeze these. I thought I would make a bunch of meatballs, then freeze individually and but them in a bag. Remove and cook as I need. What do you think? This recipe sounds amazing!
This meal with mashed potatoes and your mushroom gravy was phenomenal. I now have a new tradition for Thanksgiving. Thank you!
I love these and make them every Thanksgiving!