Lentil balls, lemon rice, and salad in bowls. Red napkin and fork on table.
Print Recipe

Lentil balls with zesty rice - Air fryer or oven!

Sometimes bean balls are served with a sauce, but I love this lighter version with zesty rice and salad. The lemon brightens the dish from what is usually a rich recipe. Going light makes this dish versatile, and something that can be enjoyed in warmer months!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Keyword: air fryer, bowl, gluten free
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 659kcal
Author: Jackie Sobon


For the lentil balls

  • 2 cans black or brown lentils, drained and rinsed 30 ounces total
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dried mushrooms
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs

For the zesty rice

  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/8 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.

To assemble

  • 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.


Tip: The lentil balls can be made in bulk in advance, then frozen for later use!
Note from Cadry: If you'd prefer to make the lentil balls in the air fryer instead of the oven, here's how to do it. Put the lentil balls in an even layer inside the air fryer basket. No parchment paper is required. If you’re making the full recipe, you’ll need to cook the lentil balls in two batches. Air fry at 380 degrees for 10 minutes. Then carefully turn each lentil ball over, and continue air frying for another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the air fryer and serve with zesty rice and salad.
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Yack Attack On The Go! © 2018 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.
Text © 2018 Jackie Sobon.


Calories: 659kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 583mg | Potassium: 1061mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 835IU | Vitamin C: 33.8mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 6.5mg