Lentil Ricotta “Meatballs” (with lemon and basil)

I am constantly on the hunt for hearty meatless meals. We are not vegetarians, by any means, but I do try to incorporate a couple of vegetarian dinners into our meal plan each week. Anyone else with me on this? Read more about this philosophy here.

Ricotta Lentil Meatballs with Lemon and Basil on 100 Days of Real Food

These Lentil Ricotta “meatballls” with lemon and basil definitely fit the bill. And what amazes me about this recipe is that you can make as many “meatballs” as you see pictured… from just one cup of dried lentils! I mean, you can buy a whole bag of lentils for a dollar, so that couldn’t be any more budget-friendly for dinner. Now, the ricotta and parmesan might up the price a little, but just imagine the basil from your garden, homemade breadcrumbs from stale bread you might’ve thrown out anyway, spices from your cabinet, and less than a dollar on a lemon. Top off the finished “meatballs” with a box of whole-wheat noodles and a jar of your favorite marinara sauce and voila—it’s a dinner that’s both healthy and good for your wallet. Plus, with this many “meatballs” in one recipe, you’ll have leftovers for sure! Enjoy. :)

Ricotta Lentil "Meatballs" (with lemon and basil)

4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 8 (Serving Size = 3 meatballs)


For the lentils

For the "meatballs"

For serving


For the lentils

  • Combine the lentils and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Add extra water if necessary until the lentils are tender enough.
  • Drain the lentils and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. 

For the "meatballs"

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add the pureed lentils to a large bowl along with the bread crumbs, parmesan, basil, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined then mix in the ricotta and eggs. Form into 1-inch "meatballs" and place in rows on the baking sheet (close together, if necessary).
  • Brush or spray the "meatballs" with olive oil and cook until golden brown, turning them over halfway through, about 16 to 20 minutes total. Serve over whole-grain pasta with your favorite marinara sauce and extra parmesan for garnish (if desired).


We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Ricotta Lentil "Meatballs" (with lemon and basil)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 207 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 437mg19%
Potassium 190mg5%
Carbohydrates 50g17%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 275IU6%
Vitamin C 5.9mg7%
Calcium 74mg7%
Iron 2.9mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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16 thoughts on “Lentil Ricotta “Meatballs” (with lemon and basil)”

  1. 5 stars
    My family of five, including a carnivore husband, really enjoyed this for dinner tonight. The adults had the meatballs over spaghetti squash while the kids had them over pasta. My vegetarian daughter said the meatballs reminded her a lot of turkey meatballs I used to make for her. We will definitely make this recipe again. We do have one picky eater (our youngest) who didn’t care for them, but she doesn’t care for most foods other than crackers . I keep offering her healthy food!

  2. 4 stars
    I used the leftover “meatballs” like falafel in a whole wheat pita wrap spread with hummus for lunch following this for dinner.

  3. This recipe looks really good! Does it have to be green lentils? I can’t find those at the store. Green lentils are not the same as split peas, right?

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