Vegan Lentil Meatballs in Spiced Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

My favorite childhood dish was the marinated meatballs in flavored tomato sauce that my grandmother was waiting for me with, when I was returning home from school. I remember having them hot, bathed in that amazing sauce and always responding with “marinated meatballs” when asked about the dish I wanted for the next day.

Vegan Lentil Meatballs in Spiced Pumpkin Tomato Sauce


For the meatballs

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs (replace with ground flax for a gluten-free variation)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt

For the sauce

  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cubed (or 3-4 tbsp pumpkin puree)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or purified water
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • To serve: cooked brown rice or quinoa, lime wedges
  • To garnish: coconut milk or yogurt, fresh parsley


  • Preheat the oven to 175 C/346 F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In the food processor add the walnuts and pulse to obtain a crumble.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse four or five times to obtain a mixture with some crumbles for texture (don't over-process to avoid a mushy mixture).
  • Shape the mixture into little balls using your hands or a scoop and line them onto the baking sheet. You will get 10 - 12 balls.
  • Drizzle with coconut oil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the tomato sauce meanwhile.
  • Add the onion and butternut cubes into a large cast iron skillet together with a tablespoon water and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, broth/water, coconut milk, spices and sugar, mix and bring to boil over medium heat.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper and use a hand blender to turn the sauce into a creamy liquid.
  • Remove the lentil balls from the oven and add them one by one into the sauce pan.
  • Garnish with coconut milk and fresh parsley, and serve with brown rice and lime wedges.