Tiny Table Cooks…Little Veggie Eats Lentil Balls with Tomato Sauce

Credit: Tania Dolvers

Welcome to Tiny Table Cooks… – a failsafe stash of recipes set to keep you and your family fed. We’ve teamed up with some of the country’s best cooks, bakers and foodies to bring you some tasty inspo, store cupboard saviours and freezable feasts.

If you’re weaning your little one right now and in need of some inspo, Rachel Boyett is here to save the day! Founder of Little Veggie Eats, Rachel is a busy mama of three and lifetime vegetarian. She set up Little Veggie Eats back in 2015 when the good old ‘gram was just starting and has since developed a myriad of amazing veggie and vegan recipes fit for the whole family to tuck into. Her book Little Veggie Eats is a fab go-to planet-friendly weaning guide, packed with tips, hacks and advice to ensure all your baby’s nutritional needs are met in their first year. From Rainbow Pancakes and Breakfast Sushi to Baby Buddha Bowls and Magic Curry, there’s also a specific section on allergies and the best sources of plant-based protein and iron.

Lentil Balls with Tomato Sauce

A few words from Rachel…. Crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, these lentil balls are perfect for little hands to grab. Unassuming-looking, they are packed with good stuff: lentils, oats, mushrooms and carrots. The combination of plant-based protein and fibre gives a slow, steady energy release for a hearty, filling meal. With the tomato sauce they are great by themselves, or you can serve with spaghetti or some fresh bread. I make these in a food processor, but a stick blender will work too – just chop the veggies up a little smaller. 

Ingredients
Serves 2 adults and 2 smalls
Makes 18 balls – Ideal first food (finger food) 
1 tsp olive oil
1⁄2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 x 400g can of brown lentils,  drained and rinsed
1⁄2 cup/40g oats
3 closed cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1 tsp dried oregano (or a couple of sprigs of fresh) 

Tomato Sauce:
1 tsp olive oil
1⁄2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1⁄2 tsp balsamic vinegar 1 tsp dried oregano (or a couple of sprigs of fresh) 
Fresh parsley, to serve

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C/180 ̊C fan/400 ̊F and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. 
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes before turning off the heat. 
3. While the onion is cooking, put all the other lentil ball ingredients in a food processor (or in a bowl if using a stick blender). Add the cooked onions and blend. You want the mix to have a bit of texture so don’t blend it until completely smooth. 
4. Shape the mixture into 18 small golf ball-sized balls and put them on your baking tray. Bake the balls for about 35 minutes until they are crisp on the outside (but still soft in the middle). 
5. While the balls are cooking make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a pan and add the onion. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. 
6. Then add the chopped tomato, 1/2 cup /120ml of water, the balsamic vinegar and oregano. Cook the mixture over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes until thickened. 
7. Serve the balls with the sauce poured over, and a little freshly chopped parsley. 
8. If you want to freeze or store for a later meal, keep the balls and the sauce separate (the balls will go too soft otherwise). 

Did Little Veggie Eats weaning wonder dish wow your little one? We’d love to see your dish snaps – upload to Instagram and tag @tinytableofficial alongside the hashtag #tinytablecooks

FOR MORE WEANING INSPO, IDEAS AND TIPS VISIT LITTLE VEGGIE EATS @littleveggieeats

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