Beetballs! 6p each. (V)

These beetballs are based on a beetroot burger recipe from Lee Watson’s incredible vegan recipe book, Peace And Parsnips. If you follow my social media, you might have seen me evangelise about this book once or twice; in fact, such is my vim and vigour for this beautiful culinary bible that I put it on the desks of the country’s best food magazine with an insistence that they read it first out of the hundreds of books piled on their desks. I have given copies to friends, new and old vegans alike, carnivores, and today thrust my own copy at my friend Jane with corners folded down and jabbing a finger at the photos asking her how she could refuse a beetroot burger from a man who looks like Jesus himself. So thankyou, Lee, for the inspiration for these beetballs – I started off making your burgers and got carried away – so apologies that they aren’t in their original carnation, but here we are.

For a gluten-free version, simply replace the slice of bread with a tablespoon or two of your preferred gluten free flour; it’s just to bind the ingredients together to hold them in shape. Add one and see how firm it is, then add a little more if required.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes in the World Food aisle at the supermarket, the KTC brand of red lentils are £3/2kg – but not everyone has the space to store 2kg of lentils nor the initial financial outlay for bulk buys, so I try to keep my recipes based around reasonable purchases – I know I don’t have space for 2kg of lentils in my tiny kitchen on top of the bulk carrots, spuds and onions for a start!

With the beetroot, at my local supermarket the fresh bunched variety is £1.80 for 500g, and the peeled and cooked vacuum-packed beets are 80p for 250g, so they actually work out cheaper. It seems illogical but I can only imagine they would be the smaller beets or the ‘less pretty’ more than the big glorious ones that make it into the bunches. Which is speculation, but I’m applying Tinned Spud Theory and it makes sense. Anyway, it’s a matter of personal preference and budget, but unless I’m seducing someone with a raw gorgeous salad, (and let’s face it, who even does that?!), I’ll take the pre-cooked cheaper beets every time. They don’t stain your fingers as much either.

Makes 20 beetballs at 6p each

(Prices based at Sainsburys because that’s where I shop – similar products widely available at all major supermarkets. If you find anything cheaper than listed below, comment and let me know; other readers love a bargain and it’s good to share!)

200g red lentils, 44p (£1.10/500g)

150g cooked beetroot (not the kind in vinegar), 48p (80p/250g)

1 small onion, approx 100g, 6p (Basics, 90p/1.5kg)

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p (Basics, 2 bulbs/35p)

½ tsp cumin or coriander, 3p (£1/38g)

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, 3p (£3/3l)

a pinch of salt, <1p (Basics, 25p/750g)

1 tbsp bottled or fresh lemon juice, 3p (50p/250ml)

1 slice of bread or a pitta, 4p (Basics, 6/22p)

First thoroughly rinse your lentils under a cold tap, then pop into a pan. Cover with water and bring to the boil; do not add any salt at this stage or your lentils may seize and never ever soften. Sad but true. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes, until very soft, swollen and translucent.

Meanwhile, slice your onion and garlic and toss into a pan. Finely dice your beetroot and add that too. Add the oil and spice of your choice, and bring to a medium heat to soften, stirring regularly to stop them from sticking and burning.

Skim any scum from the top of the lentils using a tablespoon, then drain and rinse them thoroughly. Tip into a mixing bowl along with the onion, garlic and beetroot, and mash to a pulp. An ordinary jug blender, or any kind of food processor, will make this job easier, but it’s not essential; a fork or masher and a good dollop of elbow grease will yield a pretty satisfying result too.

When it’s a rough pulp, grate the bread into crumbs and mix through, with a pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Cover the mixture and chill it in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

When firm to touch, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Shape the mixture into small balls and place on a lightly greased baking tray. Drizzle the top with a little extra oil, or brush each one if you can be bothered, and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, turning over halfway through. And serve. I like mine with mayo (vegan, garlic), a generous helping of slaw, and a pile of little socca pancakes (recipe here: )

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Instagram and Tumblr @MxJackMonroe and Twitter @BootstrapCook


My new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, is now available to order HERE.

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  1. Look very tasty. Am a fan of Peace and Parsnips. Lovely book. Waitrose had the cooked vacuum packed beetroots half price on Tuesday about 47p if there’s one nearby. Can be worth stocking up if you use them as they keep quite well unopened.

  2. Can u do a vegan book please I’m struggling with my filing/tech system. Paper would be much easier.
    Happy new year!

  3. Vacuum packed beetroot doesn’t make the house smell like the lovely fresh bunches do when you cook it either!

    Also, am I the only one who bulk buys things like rice and lentils then puts the excess I can’t store in the kitchen into plastic ziplock bags then stuff them in my boots and handbags. Keeps the boots and bags in shape and gives me extra storage – I live in a hobbit house so there is no “spare” space!

  4. Jack,
    Seducing with a salad…yes there’s the next book!
    I’ll bet you’ll pull us in with that!

  5. Aldi had x4 vacuum packed beetroot for 29p – I bought some to make into chutney but I’m gonna try these instead!

    • Aldi’s vacuum packed beetroot for 29p are 500g !

      Usually 45p-66p

      Both Aldi and Lidl have a number of 29p vegetables on special until next Wednesday 13th Jan

      Aldi: Iceberg Lettuce Cucumber Spring Onions Beetroot (500g) Salad Tomatoes (6x) Celery
      Lidl: Onions (1Kg) Red Pepper (each) Cucumber Cherry Plum Tomatoes (250g)

      So a good time to stock up on Onions and Beetroot and encourage snacking on Cherry Plum Tomatoes rather than sugared stuff.

  6. Hi Jack
    On a low fodmap diet. Tinned lentils the only kind I can tolerate but where oh where can I get tinned red lentils. Any ideas? This served with a carrot and celeriac rumelade and socco made with buck wheat flour could just work. Going to give it a try. So good to have you back!!!

    • Jennifer Osborne – I’ve found tinned red lentils all the time in B&M along with white kidney beans strangely enough xxx

    • Given that the lentils only appear to be used as a binding/bulking agent, you should get the same results from any other type of lentils.

      I assume (and this is only a guess, mind you) that red lentils are used here because they are the quickest to cook, don’t need soaking and are generally the cheapest to buy. I don’t know about the last one, but the first 2 ‘issues’ with other lentils are going to be avoided anyway, simply because you’re using tined lentils instead of dried.

  7. Hi Jack
    On a low fodmap diet. Tinned lentils the only kind I can tolerate but where oh where can I get tinned red lentils. Any ideas? This served with a carrot and celeriac rumelade and socca made with buck wheat flour could just work. Going to give it a try. So good to have you back!!!

  8. These sound so delicious! I’m getting the ingredients I don’t already have and making them tomorrow…along with Coconut milk soda bread 😊😊😊 Happy me when I’m cooking/baking! Lovely Jubbly…Thanks Jack 😊

  9. Hello Jack – I am a massive fan of yours as you have turned around my family’s eating lifestyle AND our budget (which was in jeopardy to begin with!). I’ll try these beetballs out, definitely, and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Lee Watson at a retreat where he was doing the cooking. What a top bloke! I agree, his book is a thing of beauty and a firm favourite in my kitchen. He even signed my copy for me. I’m looking forward to your new book and have sent my kickstarter pledge. Much love and light. Xxxx

  10. Sounds great! Cooked vacuum packed beetroot is 29p for 500g in addition at the moment for 2 weeks.

  11. Already love using vacuum beetroots. Great. I also would like the link to the socca pancakes. And definitely will search out Peace and Parsnips (my favourite winter vegetable). All the best for a great 2016. Onwards and upwards now!

  12. These sound lovely Jack! I’m not completely veggie but my husband is so I’m always looking for hearty recipes that we can both eat (who has time to cook two different meals!). Just wondering how long these would keep in the fridge, or if they would freeze well and how one would defrost them? Thank you.

  13. I’ve been searching for recipes for pre-cooked beetroot; it’s so cheap in the bargain supermarkets…looking forward to trying this!

  14. Top tip, don’t overcook your lentils so they turn into a thick soup that you can’t drain or you’ll end up with a too soggy burger mix (I added extra flour and some poppy seeds that have been lurking in the couple for ages. So then I added some sunflower seeds too). Ended up with loads of mix so I’ve tried freezing two burgers before cooking them.

  15. I made these with Aldi cooked beets, chickpeas ( cozy that’s what I had) and gram flour instead of breadcrumbs….flipping awesome. I have some leftover beets, so am attempting the Beetroot chocolate cake next.

    Don’t stop being fabulous darling xxx

  16. I’ve read this blog & your books for so long now Jack. I just wanted to say it’s great to see you back cooking and writing recipes, looking forward to trying this one out particularly. Thanks!

  17. Adapted this to make a kind of Chinese glutinous rice ball recipe, with arborio rice. Was delicious, will make again but will have to wait until February as there was rice wine in mine and I’m doing DryJanuary too

  18. A further adaption.

    Start with making up a packet of Sainsbury’s Basics Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix, add 200 g cooked Beetroot and some mushrooms and dried mashed potatoes, form into balls and bake.

  19. Have just made some – they are very pleasant fried to give a crisp outside; I also added some leftover mashed potato and a tasty sprinkling of piri-piri . Almost anything can be mixed into little flattened balls and fried, grilled or baked – one of my favourite ways of using up leftovers, but I had never thought before of including beetroot, thanks for the idea.

  20. Love these! I made then into small patties instead. Also added some parsley as had bought loads for other cooking. I rolled half of the patties in coarse polenta flour and they held together better than ones without. Made these first time 2 weeks ago and will make them again this week. Thank you for such a yummy recipe.

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