Lentil balls with zesty rice offer many delectable flavors & textures in one single bowl. With savory lentils, lemony rice, and a simple salad, it’s a convenient & satisfying anytime meal. Lentil balls can be made in the oven or air fryer! Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free.
But as a kid, there was one thing about July I didn’t like.
Inevitably, that’s when school supplies like folders, Trapper Keepers, and pencil cases would start showing up in stores. It felt like I’d only gotten to the good part of summer, and Target would start reminding me that it was going to end.
These days, those harbingers of fall don’t hit me quite so hard – at least not until sometime in September or October when the leaves start turning yellow. Since I’m not in school and don’t have kids, my life doesn’t change all that much between now and the first day of school – whenever that is.
But I know for lots of people, schedules change greatly when kids have to be up and out the door a whole lot earlier. When there’s homework and after school activities, performances and sports, suddenly that window for making meals shrinks.
Vegan Yack Attack On The Go
(If you missed my review of her first book, be sure to check it out. I shared a recipe for smoky corn chowder that is ridiculously good, especially now that corn is back in season.)
Vegan Yack Attack On the Go is a beautiful hardcover cookbook that features portable, quick and easy recipes.
It’s the perfect on-the-go recipe guide, whether you’re feeling those lazy summer vibes and don’t want to waste precious hours in the kitchen, or you’re rushing off to appointments and don’t have time for anything laborious.
(She even has recipes for grilling/camping season – like these cauliflower curry grill packets!)
The book is loaded with stunning, colorful photos that make me want to whip up every dish from the first page to the last. From polenta with berry compote for breakfast, to butternut squash tacos or summer stew for lunch, vanilla chip buckwheat bars for a snack, and finally, lentil balls with zesty rice for dinner.
You can’t beat the convenience & cozy factor of bowls. With grains, greens, and something protein-dense all in one place, you can take aim in every bite for a mixture of flavors & textures.
And while there are three components to this dish – lentil balls, rice, and a salad – none of it takes terribly long to make.
How to make lentil balls
First, lentils are broken down in the food processor with walnuts, dried mushrooms, tomato paste, and parsley. Then gluten-free bread crumbs are added to the mix. From there, you can easily form the lentil mixture into balls.
I went rogue on this dish and used the air fryer instead of following the recipe directions for the oven.
This summer has been turning up the heat. So I went a route that wouldn’t require pre-heating. I give Jackie’s oven directions in the recipe box below, plus my air fryer directions in the notes.
(Want to make more in your air fryer? Here are 25+ vegan air fryer recipes.)
How to cook them in the air fryer
Put the balls in an even layer inside the basket. No parchment paper is required.
If you’re making the full recipe, you’ll need to cook them in two batches.
Air fry at 380 degrees for 10 minutes. Then carefully turn each one over. Continue air frying for another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the air fryer and serve with zesty rice and salad.
Finish with zesty rice & salad
The balls are served with a bright & lemony rice that’s dotted with parsley.
(You may be wondering why my rice has a pinkish hue. That’s because I used pink rice. It’s my favorite quick-cooking rice when I don’t have the time for brown basmati rice.)
Finally, the bowl is finished with a simple salad of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and a squeeze of lemon. Although the bowl doesn’t need a sauce, a drizzling of lemon tahini dressing wouldn’t go amiss.
Since the lentil balls freeze well and so does rice, a person could easily make a double batch, pop it in the freezer, and have dinner practically made on those busy fall nights. Just add salad!
Lentil balls with zesty rice - Air fryer or oven!
For the lentil balls
For the zesty rice
- 2 ⅔ cups water
- 1 ⅓ cups uncooked basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1½ tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ⅛ teaspoon salt or to taste
For the assembly
- 2 cups chopped lettuce
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup slivered red onion
- 4 lemon wedges
To make the lentil balls
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, or gas mark 5), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place the lentils, walnuts, dried mushrooms, tomato paste, parsley, salt, and pepper into a food processor equipped with an S-blade. Pulse the mixture until it is broken down into smaller pieces, but is not yet a paste. Fold the bread crumbs into the lentil mixture until combined. Form twenty 2-tablespoon-sized (30 g) lentil balls with your hands, and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip them over, baking for an additional 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for 7 to 10 minutes before removing them. (For air fryer directions, see notes.)
To make the zesty rice
- In a pot, bring the water and rice to a boil over medium heat. Cover with a lid, and adjust the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Stir the lemon juice, parsley, lemon zest, and salt into the rice until evenly combined. Taste and add more salt, if preferred.
- Combine lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions in a bowl, then divide it between 4 plates or containers. Then, divide the rice and lentil balls between each plate. Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve.
Text © 2018 Jackie Sobon.