Neat Ball Recipe

Neat Ball Recipe

Here at the Christian house, we are trying to eat less meat and more veggies but I’m not exactly thrilled about using soy as a substitute to bulk up a casserole or add some umami to our meals. Don’t get me wrong, I love Morningstar Farms meat substitute products like Griller Crumbles or Chicken Nuggets.  First three ingredients in Griller Crumbles: water, soy flour, wheat gluten. First three ingredients in Chicken Nuggets: water, soy protein concentrate, soy oil.

Can you feel the problem here?

Over the years I’ve played around with various bean-based burgers but none come close to the versatility of the recipe I’m going to share with you.

It’s lentil based.

  • If you didn’t already know, let me tell you just how awesome lentils are for you.  They help to reduce blood cholesterol which along with their generous supply of folate and magnesium helps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Because they’re a legume (think bean) and high in fiber, they help with digestive disorders.  This is crazy but they actually help stabilize your blood sugar. And last, but not least, they are really high in protein.  Read more…

It’s low in fat.

  • Now, I think fat gets a bad rap these days. Our bodies need some fat to work right and absorb nutrients but it’s best coming from sources like olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

It’s full of other good vegetables. 

It’s gluten-free.

It’s soy free. 

And it’s easy and fast. 

I start dinner every night at four and most nights it’s on the table by five. I know that most of you eat later but I like to feed the littles and get them onto a calm-down cycle before bed. Besides, I think we all feel better when there’s some time between our last meal and sleep. What I’m saying is that within one hour, with kids underfoot, I can make a delicious and nutritious meal.

You can turn this into burgers, or balls, or dippable nugget things.  Kids love dippable nugget things. This is a big recipe so I usually make an assortment of shapes so that in one evening I’ve prepped for three dinners.  But if you don’t want to make a tremendous amount of food, the mixture keeps well for about a week and can be baked or fried on the fly as needed.  Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Neat Ball Recipe

Category: Main Dish



  • 1 - 1/2 cups dry lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • "Chicken" bouillon powder or your favorite bouillon
  • 2 tsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 4 carrots shredded
  • 2 or more cloves of garlic pressed or diced
  • 1 cup or more Oats (look for gluten free if that's important to you)
  • 1 small 6 ounce can Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less depending upon your preference and how much salt is in your bouillon powder)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce - Our Family brand doesn't contain anchovies if that matters to you
  • 2 eggs or binding egg substitute if that matters to you
  • Spray oil
  • Parchment Paper


  1. In a small pot with a lid, add rinsed lentils with enough bouillon flavored water to cover and bring to a boil. Don't put the lid on tight - leave it open a little for steam to escape. You can turn the heat down a little but keep it boiling and watch it closely. Lentils go from hard things bubbling in a pot to suddenly done very quickly and scorching.
  2. While the lentils cook dice onions and shred carrots. I use my salad shooter with the grater insert to make short work of the carrots. You want to end up with about 2 cups of shredded carrots.
  3. You can substitute part of the carrots with shredded zucchini, finely diced broccoli, or spinach.
  4. Press or dice the garlic. If you don't have fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder.
  5. Sauté all the vegetables together in a skillet with the grapeseed oil until the onion is translucent.
  6. Preheat oven to 425° F.
    Process in your food processor in this order:
  1. Oats - process until a little more fine. You aren't aiming for flour, but just to break down the structure of the oats.
  2. 2 cups cooked lentils. If they have a lot of water in the pot still, strain it off with a slotted spoon before measuring. Save any extra lentils to add to other meals.
  3. Tomato paste
  4. Oregano, Basil, Salt, and Worcestershire Sauce
  5. Sautéed vegetables
  6. When the mixture is smooth, add the eggs and blend them in.
  1. Test the mixture for thickness. If you are making burgers or nuggets it should be as thick as mashed potatoes or thicker. If you are making balls, you will want it thick enough to roll between your palms.
  2. To make it thicker add oats. If it's too thick, add some more lentils or lentil water if you had any left over. But thicker is good so don't be in too much of a rush to thin it down.
  3. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray it lightly with oil.
  4. If making balls, roll about 2 tablespoons between your hands to make balls and set on parchment paper. These will not expand while cooking so you can place them quite close to each other.
  5. If making burgers, spoon about 2/3 cup (more or less according to size of buns or appetites) into a mound on parchment paper. Spread it out into a burger shape.
  6. If making dippable nuggets, drop little mounds of about 2 tablespoons each of mixture. Keeping them somewhat irregular creates little nooks and crannies for catsup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, or hummus to cling to.
  1. Bake at 425° F for 10 to 12 minutes. Flip each burger, ball, or nugget over and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  2. This will make about 12 burgers. I usually make an assortment so this recipe makes three meals for my little family.

Burger topping ideas:

  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Raw onions
  • Hummus instead of mayo

Some different ideas:

  • Shape into logs the size of weiners and serve in a hot dog bun
  • Crumble leftover burgers and reheat for tacos
  • Skip a bun entirely and lay a burger patty on top of a bed of lettuce. Top with regular burger goodies.

What do you like to top your burger with?




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