Monday, January 16, 2012

The BEST Veggie "Meatballs" Ever!

Who doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs? I remember my mom making her sauce every Sunday and making her famous meatballs. I loved to help her. She would dump raw chop meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices into a big bowl and I would mix it all up with my bare hands. Then came the fun part: rolling the mixture into little balls for frying. I shudder now at the thought of  handling raw meat and actually loving it, but that was then. Now I make my own delicious meatballs - without the raw meat!

You can just buy frozen veggie meatballs and plop them into your sauce but where's the fun in that? I think shaping the meatballs is the best part. It's very therapeutic and a good project for the kids. Let them stick their little hands right into the meatball mixture and roll away. No worries about  e coli or any other diseases from handling (or tasting) raw meat. 

Note: I very rarely measure anything when I cook. I use the palm of my hand as a guide and just toss things in until it looks right.  These measurements are as close as I can get them so feel free to add more or less if you prefer.

Here's my recipe:

1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 -3 Tablespoons vegan "Parmesan" cheese
2- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1 -2 Tablespoons of chopped pine nuts (optional)
small handful of golden raisins (optional)
olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with your hands until blended well.  It will take a little while for you to adjust to cooking without meat. Usually meatball mixture made with real meat is moist because of the added eggs. THIS MIXTURE should be dry. If it appears too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.  OR, while mixing, add a drop or two of olive oil.

Take 2 tablespoons ( or more) of the mixture (depended on how large you want your meatballs) and roll them with your hands into round ball shapes. Just don't make them too big. You want be sure they cook all the way through.

Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet.

Brown the meatballs evenly on each side.

Drop the cooked meatballs into your sauce for about 15 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Serve hot with your choice of pasta and extra marinara sauce.

You won't believe how good these are! Serve them to your carnivorous, full-blooded Italian family and friends. I promise, they'll love 'em!

Special note: I use Gimme Lean because I cook for a carnivore. I could make these out of beans (my preference) but he won't eat them. These, he loves and asks for seconds. And they are great the next day to make"meatball" heros. I am happy because he's not eating meat and he's happy because, well, these are really, really good.

If you can't find Gimme Lean at your local grocery or health food store, or if you are a purist, you can substitute about 2 cups of cooked, cooled, very well drained lentils. Just mash up the cooked lentils with a fork. You might want to add more breadcrumbs to the mixture to get the consistency you want. Then just drop them right into the pot with the sauce but take extra care when doing so and when stirring your sauce as they cook. They might not be quite as sturdy as the Gimme Lean "meatballs"  so they could fall apart if you are not gentle with them.

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