Dishing Up the Dirt

Lentil-Mushroom Bites with Harissa-Tomato Sauce

This recipe almost didn’t make the blog. And not because it’s a horrible recipe or even a mediocre recipe. It is quite the opposite. The reason it almost didn’t make the blog is because I ate most of the batter before I even placed these puppies in the oven.  I had to literally give myself a stern talking to as I was licking the wooden spoon.  The good news is that I ended up not doing as much damage as I thought and was able to make about 10 little balls out of the remainder of the batter.  As luck would have it, Taylor came in from the field starving just as the oven timer went off (he was tilling up dirt to build our new greenhouse!) We both proceeded to eat these mini bites straight off the baking sheet before I could even snap a photo. So the fact that there were enough lentil-mushroom bites leftover to snap a few photos is a miracle!

I have recently been seeing a lot of recipes for lentil “meatballs” around the web. And while I am 100 percent a lover of all things made vegetarian out of old comfort foods I cannot bring myself to call these little nuggets “meatballs.” I haven’t had a meatball in years but I’m pretty sure these taste nothing like them. I know the texture is totally different which will throw anyone off if they are trying to compare these to “real” meatballs. They do however, have somewhat of a meaty flavor do to the mushrooms.  Mushrooms, lentils, and tomato sauce is my favorite kind of comfort food.

I got the inspiration for this recipe from Kiersten over at Oh My Veggies. I used her recipe as a guide and I am so pleased with how these turned out.  They can be a little finicky and may fall apart while you are eating them but PLEASE don’t let that deter you. These were so stinking good that I’ve made them twice this past week! Honestly, sometimes “messy” food is the best kind of food! These would taste great on top of pasta, in a pita wrap, or on a salad. We enjoyed ours as finger food dipped in the delicious sauce and washed down with a few local IPA beers. Pour a glass and dig in!

Lentil-Mushroom Bites with Harissa-Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes    Cook Time: 45 minutes    Serves: 10-12 bites

  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup veggie stock
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the Harissa-Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (in their juices)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS harissa (if you are sensitive to spice start with 1 TBS if you like it spicier add more!)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish


For the Meatballs:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine lentils, bay leaf and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. (The lentils will be undercooked but that's what we want!) Discard bay leaf and drain lentils. 
  3. Add mushroom and lentils to a food processor and coarsely chop. Don't over process we still want plenty of texture here!
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute stirring frequently. Add lentil mushroom mixture. Cook until starting to brown (about 4 minutes) Add the red wine vinegar and cook until evaporated. Stir in oats, oregano and veggie stock. Continue to cook and stir until moisture has evaporated (about 3 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. (This is a good time to taste test, add some salt and pepper if needed).
  6. Once mixture is cool enough to handle form into uniform sized balls. You should be able to make about 10 small "bites"
  7. Lightly grease a baking sheet and place each ball about 1/2 inch apart.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.
For the Harissa-Tomato Sauce:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes stirring often. Add tomatoes, harissa and spices, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes. 
  2. Serve with lentil mushroom bites and cilantro.


Use this recipe as a guide. Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary.

Leave a Reply

23 thoughts on “Lentil-Mushroom Bites with Harissa-Tomato Sauce

  1. Hi Andrea, think I could use other types of lentils? orange or black or Puy? thanks, Karin

  2. Andrea says:

    Hi Karin,
    Try the black of Puy, I think the orange ones will get too mushy. Remember to undercooked the lentils when making these! They are so good. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Susan says:

    I love your blog and can’t wait to try these. My daughter is vegan so I will try them on her….thanks

    1. Andrea says:

      Let me know how they turn out! We love them!

  4. These look and sound fantastic! Definitely pinning for later!

    1. Andrea says:

      Let me know if you try them!

  5. Woo hoo! I love the idea of serving these with harissa-y (that’s a word, right?!) tomato sauce. These pictures are making me hongry (that’s a word too)!

    1. Andrea says:

      Thanks for the recipe Kiersten! We are head-over-heels in love with these little nuggets!

  6. Amy says:

    These look sensational! Perfect for topping a workday lunchtime salad 🙂
    I have been vegetarian for three and a bit years and I can’t bring myself to call things after their meat counter part either. Not because the thought is gross, but just that the things I make are somehow their own entity and shouldn’t have to be compared to be considered delicious.
    Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    1. Andrea says:

      There really are the perfect topping for a lunchtime salad. Let me know if you give these a try!

  7. Joanne says:

    I have called veggie-balls meatballs before but I always do feel a little conflicted about it! It just seems…wrong? I think bites is perfect though! And so are these. In general. I’m in love with that tomato sauce you’ve drizzled over them.

    1. Andrea says:

      Joanne you need to try the sauce. I know you love the Moroccan spices so this is right up your alley!

  8. Looks great Andrea. I definitely need to pick up harissa for some of your recipes! Made a carrot hummus yesterday and was wishing I had some.

    1. Andrea says:

      I love carrot hummus. Yes, harissa definitely bumps things up a notch in the taste department!

  9. These sound awesome! I make a mean lentil ‘meatball’ that has ricotta in it. I know y’all don’t eat dairy, but if you ever want to splurge, the recipe is by In Jennie’s Kitchen and they’re PERFECT. They hold together everytime, and I have literally fooled meat-eaters into eating them. I want to try your vegan version here, though!

    1. Andrea says:

      Oooohhh! yours sound fantastic! We still eat dairy and I will definitely check out your recipe. Yum!

  10. Leigh says:

    I think calling them “bites” is a good alternative. Lentil Mushroom Globes? Lentil Mushroom Spheres? Lentil Mushroom Balls? Lentil Mushroom Globules – definitely not. Hmmm… I think bites is best! Looking forward to trying these. I’ve been making black bean bites (usually served with spaghetti squash or zucchini “pasta” which I love, but this would be a yummy change! Awesome recipe!

  11. afracooking says:

    Such a coincidence, I posted an almost identical recipe that I found on Cookie&Kate a few weeks back. I think the main difference is that she uses a large bunch of parsley, softened onion and some soy sauce in these amazing lentilballs – I loved this recipe and can totally imagine you had difficulty keeping your fingers off them before snapping pics!

  12. I’m obsessed with all things lentil and these look to-die-for! I’ve actually made Kiersten’s version and agree that they aren’t anything like real meatballs but that doesn’t mean they weren’t incredibly delicious. I bet this sauce kicks them up about ten notches too!!

  13. Yes vegetarian “meat”balls does sound a little odd doesnt it? I think bites sounds perfect, and these bites look great! Pinning these for future cooking 😉

    1. Andrea says:

      Let me know if you make them! we are making another batch this weekend for super bowl snacks (By the way, I’m SO not a super bowl fan but I do love snacks!)

  14. Charlotte says:

    Andrea, What a wonderful recipe!! Tried these today and they were delicious!!

    1. Andrea says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed them! We make them almost once a week now!!! Can’t get enough!

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