These uber savory meatballs are packed with tons of ingredients with glutamate-the compound responsible for umami. Lentils, onions, garlic, tomato paste, soy sauce and nutritional yeast all play their part in making these vegan meatballs taste meaty. Plus they are full of protein and fiber.
Put the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl until the garlic is just lightly browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and ½ cup water. Bring to a high simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the torn basil leaves and 2 teaspoons salt and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, then add the wheat berries and boil until plump and tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Put the lentils in a medium saucepan with 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until almost all of the water has evaporated and the lentils are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring until soft and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar and nutritional yeast and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated and is slightly dry, about 2 more minutes. Let cool slightly. Clean out the skillet.
Transfer the onion-mushroom mixture to a food processor. Add the cooked lentils, wheat berries and parsley leaves. Pulse until the mixture is combined and crumbly but not mushy.
Put the torn bread into a large bowl and cover with ¼ cup of water. Let sit at least 5 minutes to soften. Using a fork, mash the soaked bread into a paste. Add the lentil mixture to the bowl with the mashed bread and mix by hand until fully incorporated. The mixture should hold its shape when squeezed gently.
Shape the mixture by hand into 18 golf-ball sized meatballs. Place about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are golden brown on the outside and don’t crumble when gently pressed, 25 to 30 minutes.
To serve, pour the sauce into a shallow serving bowl. Put the hot meatballs on top of the sauce and garnish with parsley.