Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

Simply Pasta is a monthly recipe column in which Best of Vegan contributor Teri-Ann Carty delves into her 20-year experience in fine dining and shares her best practices and recipes for making amazing pasta. In the new installment of Simply Pasta, she shares her recipe for cozy lentil neatballs that will accompany any pasta dish seamlessly.

Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

What do you think of when it comes to cozy pasta ideas? I had the absolute pleasure of working in some of the best Italian restaurants here in Toronto with world-renowned chefs so I have a few ideas. Stick around and you’ll see what I mean.

Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

Every Sunday night at my last job we would offer the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs. We called it Nonna’s Meatballs because the lady who made the meatballs was indeed a Nonna and she was (is) amazing. She would create all of our soups, sugo (sauce), pastry, and homemade pasta. I went vegan working there and let me tell you she did to make it easy. Ever try telling an Italian grandmother you don’t want to taste her food? Yeah, good luck with that. There may be tears, a string of Italian words, and a whole lot of hand gestures. Don’t worry, she will NEVER GET OVER IT.

Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

To my NEATBALLS. Yes, you read that right. Neat instead of meat. I came up with this recipe because I missed the classic. There are a million vegan meatball recipes out there but I LOVE this one because it combines lentils and mushrooms. These balls hold together very well, could be eaten in a sub, in sauce, or on pasta with sauce. Give them a try and let me know how it goes!!!

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Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ chopped onion, diced 
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 ½ cups cooked green lentils 
  • 3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ¼ cups vegan parm
  • ½ cups gf panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ tbsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ cups fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • ½ tsp dried chilies 


  1. Sauté onion, garlic, pinch chili flakes. Add in shrooms and sauté until they soften. 
  2. Add mushroom mix to food processor with remaining ingredients. Pulse until mixture just comes together, you are not looking for a paste. Transfer to a bowl and place in fridge to firm up (about 30 minutes).
  3. Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC. Line a sheet with parchment. Roll balls about 1 ½-2 inches (mine were pretty big) and place on sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, turn and bake again for 10. Balls should be firm and crisp on the outside and still tender and juicy on the inside. 


Find more of Teri-Ann’s recipes on her website and Instagram (@terianncarty).


Simply Pasta: Lentil Neatballs

Recipe, text, and photography by Teri-Ann Carty.

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