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There is not much better than a robust Italian tomato sauce, except for perhaps a robust Italian tomato sauce topping a delicious take on vegetarian meatballs. Read on for a perfect dinner or lunch recipe, ready in a short time and loaded with nutritional ingredients and flavor to the max.

Lentils and hemp hearts are an ideal protein replacement for meat, making these “meatballs” a great high-protein recipe for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Hemp hearts are known to help lower cholesterol and support heart-health and high-blood pressure. These powerful little seeds are also known for their potent anti-inflammatory properties, much like CBD. CBD is one of the many compounds found in hemp plants, and can also be easily added to your favorite recipes, like the sauce in this one. (Simply add a dropper full of your favorite CBD tincture to the blender in step 8 for an extra nutritious boost).

Packed with flavor, essential vitamins, and Omega3s, these “meatballs” only get better with the roasted cherry tomato sauce. Cherry tomatoes are a little sweeter than Roma tomatoes or others often used in Italian sauces, creating a dynamic flavor profile with the lentils and hemp hearts. Whether you are vegetarian or not, this is a “meatball” recipe any Italian food lover can get behind. Dinner is served!


Blue Ribbon


Ready in 1 hour

Serves 4 people




  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 fl oz dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar
  • ¼ cup water



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1-½ cups green lentils, cooked
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 6 leaves of basil, chopped
  • ⅓ cup vegan parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, for frying



  1. Cook lentils in water as instructed by the packaging, about 30 minutes or until tender but still has a little bite.
  2. Turn on your oven to broil. For the sauce, toss the tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and onions with the olive oil and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Broil the vegetables on high for 5 minutes and remove from the oven when the top is a little blistered. Turn the oven down to 375F.
  3. Transfer the roasted vegetables into a medium saucepan along with the tomato paste, white wine, aged balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. While the tomato sauce is simmering, start the “meatballs” by cooking the garlic and shallots in the olive oil for 3 minutes or until slightly brown but not burnt to prevent an acrid taste.
  5. Combine the onion / garlic mixture and rest of the ingredients for the “meatballs” into a food processor, pulse until combined, and then transfer the mixture into a bowl.
  6. Weigh out 1.5 oz of the lentil mix and form them into balls. Continue with the rest of the mix until you have about 12-15 pieces.
  7. Fry the balls on medium in a non-stick pan with the vegan butter and a little more olive oil for 3 minutes. Flip the balls over and continue cooking  in the oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Puree the tomato sauce in a blender.
  9. Remove the lentil & hemp heart Italian “meatballs from the oven, top with the hot tomato sauce and enjoy!


  • An ice cream scooper can be used to portion out the “meatballs”
  • I like to serve this recipe with a side of whole wheat spaghetti or fusilli tossed in a vegan basil pesto and topped with an additional sprinkle of hemp hearts and a dash of red hot chili flakes to form a complete and nutritious meal!
  • Alternatively, a hand blender can also be used to puree the sauce but beware, use a metal pot instead of a non-stick one so you don’t scratch and ruin your special equipment