Daniel Holzman's Vegetarian Meatballs, East End Favorites
by scott feldman
I feel fortunate to call some of the country’s best chefs my friends, and recently I’ve tried to meet more of the new generation of cooks, like Daniel Holzman of The Meatball Shop, who is talented and charismatic—the real deal. When he’s out East, you’ll find the chef browsing local farm stands like Water Mill’s Halsey’s Green Thumb Organic Farm for fresh tomatoes, squash, and corn or ordering striped bass to grill from The Seafood Shop in Wainscott.
What’s your fondest East End memory?
DANIEL HOLZMAN: Being a kid at the beach and eating tomato, butter, and pumpernickel sandwiches that always had sand in them, while trying to keep the waves from destroying my expertly engineered sand castle.
What are some of your favorite restaurants here?
DH: Suki Zuki in Water Mill, which has an awesome chicken salad appetizer and great sushi. And, of course, The Lobster Roll Restaurant on Montauk Highway in Amagansett if you’re willing to brave the traffic.
As a founder of Q-Bees ice cream, where do you think the best scoop is out East?
DH: Sant Ambroeus in Southampton is my go-to spot for ice cream, but honestly I’m a Fudgsicle fanatic. I eat one every day after a swim at Main Beach.
What’s the secret to a great summer dinner party?
DH: Letting go of the day’s stress and laughing as much as possible.
Makes about 2 dozen 1½-inch meatballs
2 cups lentils
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. tomato paste
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
3 large eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
Combine lentils and 2 quarts water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain lentils, and cool. Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium-high heat for 10 minutes in ¼ cup olive oil. Add tomato paste, and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, and continue stirring for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a bowl. Once room temperature, add lentils to vegetable mixture.
Add eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts to mixture. Hand mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 400° F. Drizzle 2 tbsp. olive oil into a 9-inch baking dish, and coat the entire surface. Roll mixture into firm 1½-inch balls. Place an inch apart in baking dish.
Roast for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Cool for 5 minutes, and serve.
photography by John Kernick (veggie balls)