Friday, May 18, 2018

In the Kitchen with Jesse Miller- Recipe for Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

Hi there, my name is Jesse Miller and I write novels. Today, however, I’d like to discuss how to make one of my favorite meals, vegetarian meatballs!  

One of the things I particularly don’t like about vegetarian cooking is the desire to create a vegetarian alternative which mimics the flavor and mouthfeel (Puking forever! Such a disgusting word that mouthfeel!) of the meat version.  

However, this one gets a pass with me; whether in pasta or on a hoagie roll with sauce and cheese, this recipe is a house favorite. 

Lentils hold a special meaning for me in my creative life.  For years, I had a huge bag of lentils on top of my computer screen as I worked on my novel ARK.  No pressure, but if you read the book, you’ll get why.  Then one day, when I had finished the book, I occurred to me that I should do something with the loitering lentils, which, as you may imagine, took on a kind of Eucharistic vibe.  Lentils have become a bit of staple in my diet since.

The recipe below takes a while to prep—it’s a lot of chopping and there’s some fiddling here and there, but it can be fun to cut up vegetables if you can get a helper.  You might play some music, why not play some music together? Open a bottle of Riojas, what?  I often play sous chef in the kitchen, but sometimes I’m the big baller/shot-caller, especially when I become the Nacho, Nacho Man.  Anyway, my wife found the recipe somewhere at some point online, so wherever this came from, you rock!  I’m transcribing her handwriting of the recipe card and appreciating what incredible handwriting she has as I type this.

Lentil Meatballs

Ingredients (so you can get your mise en place on):

2 cups lentils
¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large lemon (Hey!  Maybe play Zooropa!!)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (We usually go bonkers for garlic though)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato paste
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
3 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts (yeah, I know that seems weird)

OK, here are the steps to success:

1.    Cook the lentils.  Then drain and cool.  My wife thinks it’s pretty obvious when the lentils are cooked, so let that be your clock.

2.   Sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt in ¼ cup olive oil in a large frying pan for 10 minutes.  Then add the tomato paste and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add mushrooms and then transfer to a wok (is that right, let me check…ok, I’m being told that’s NOT correct); ok, scratch that wok transfer.   How did screw that up?  Hmmmm.  Ok, the idea here is to add the mushrooms and cook for another 15 minutes.  That handwriting thing from earlier is now suspect.

3.    Cool and add the cooked lentils.

4.    Add eggs, parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts.  Mix by hand and put in the fridge for 25 mins. 

5.    Preheat your oven to 400 F.  Drizzle olive oil on the pan.

6.    Roll the mixture in to golf ball-sized meatballs. 

7.    Roast for 30 minutes, and boom!  Baby, you got a stew goin’!  Or, at least some versatile meatless meatballs. And really, since ARK is such a drinking book, complete with many cocktail recipes, it would be good to pair it with some food!  Cheers!

This is one of my favorite recipes.  Maybe you have other vegetarian recipes to share?

Jesse Miller

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Common Deer Press

Date of Publication: May 15, 2018

ISBN: Hardcover ISBN: 978-988761-08-4
Paperback: ISBN: 978-1-988761-07-7
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-988761-09-1

Number of pages: 162
Word Count: 45k

Cover Artist: Ellie Sipila

Book Description:

Imagine the son of Cinderella and Noah. That's Alabaster Ash, professional window washer and amateur foot fetishist, thrall to his three physically fit, brutally aggressive stepsisters.

After polishing foot after foot of glass in the gingerbread city of Candyland and cleaning up after the “wicked stairmasters,” he haunts the bars and streets looking for love and appreciation -or a really nice pair of feet.

Like it or not, Alabaster finds himself reliving and reimagining his parents' lives as he roams from bar to bar, from thrill ride to stunt show in the linguistic funland that is ARK.


Ground squirmed past the windows, shuffling racks of bones and skulls under the soptoil as clouds crept along the horizon. On the bus, all the windows let in cold air and hung like a racked row of ice cubes in a tray, but I barely cracked the bottle.
Out I poured when the doors opened, unable to feel my legs, unable to see the ocean, but I could smell the salty marsh marching wet blue harridans, swiping and batting the spit, pushing the blood and saltboxing up fatjuices into my sinuses.

Jammed a kwata in the belly box and engaged the line.

–I’ve arrived. I’m here.
–That’s great. I bet a little walk will feel like a little slice of heaven, eh?
–I suppose.
–Well, I’ll leave the light on for you, Buddy.

I slid on my gloves and tried not to flinch at the sudden mustering of prickly discs skipping to my face. I leaned in hard and clacked through town, blackened and boarded and unblinking, barely wicklit. Smatter rooms to let. Ingrown hairs. Offseason. Unseasoned in the savorless in and out drag of the tonguetide. I dashed through a carless parking lot and into an astralamped glass meadow jotting down quivering blue starlight ink- puddles into suckshifts of snowhunchbanks humpbacking the outermost stretch of tideland. To the left, a skit of cloven unguals stirred it seemed, crunchy, but I only got half an ear worth and couldn’t noctoscop the goings-on of could be caribou or elk or deer bowing their head, bowing their head before the almighty peering down hard and in, like the retractable Polton and Crane lamp in the dentist’s office that hangs my mouth open.
Inside the blackness, the stickiting, ricketing pickets of thickets wiggle on their dicot studs without me seeing, while they shot out the other side and stitched a black curtain against the edge of the rest of the world. I clacked another mile stretch as brine wafers tickled my ears and swizzled my nos- trils while Lawrence Welk drift popping jollyjawdropping orbs uncorked across my field of vichy.
Estrella’s was a lighthouse, though not the vertical variety. But it glowed.
Light hung out over the glass and flabbed fat, hotwhite dough out the sides as I took up her street. This was another gingerbread house, hundreds of miles from home, though this one in earshot of the beach. I rang and rang and rang and then just opened the door.

About the Author:

Jesse Miller is the author of Unwrap Your Candy and the forthcoming ARK, both available from Common Deer Press. He is a Visiting Assistant Lecturer in English at the University of New England.  He lives in the great city of Portland, Maine with his wife, two cats, and dog. Jesse roots for the Red Sox.

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