The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.
Of course, my first challenge was to research vegan ‘meatballs’ – something I had never eaten, let alone cooked myself before. I also have never eaten a real meat meatball. New territory.
In synchronous manner however, the results of the Virtual Vegan Potluck were announced after the Daring Cooks challenge had been announced and before I had decided anything to make. I was reminded of the wonderful Minted Moroccan Meatballs + Aromatic Barley by main dish winner, Ashlee of The Little Foxes which I had eagerly bookmarked during the Potluck. I was inspired to celebrate the winning main recipe with an adaptation of the recipe fit for a classic ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ dish featuring a tomato background and punchy fresh herbs that pair beautifully with an onion and garlic infused tomato sauce.
Ingredients: Makes 28 ‘Meat’balls
- 12 Chestnut or cremini mushrooms (about 250g), cleaned
- 1 cube of vegan bouillon (or equivalent powder)
- 1/2 drained can (120g) kidney beans (or other beans or chickpeas)
- 1tsp harissa
- 2tsp tomato puree
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup/200g raw bulgur wheat, ground in to a medium meal
- 2/3 cup/100g vital wheat gluten flour
- 1/3 cup/30g ground almonds (or other ground nuts)
- 2 tbsp/15g ground flax seeds
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped finely
- 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1 small-medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke or a few drops woodsmoke extract
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 200’C/400’F degrees and line one large or two smaller baking sheets with baking parchment.
- In a high-speed blender, blitz mushrooms, veggie bouillon cube (or powder), beans, harissa, tomato puree and water until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, vital wheat gluten, ground almonds, ground flax seeds, herbs and finely diced onion.
- Slowly add remaining meatball ingredients (soy sauce, salt, smoke flavour, lemon juice and pepper) and gradually stir in the 2 cups of blended mushroom liquid until a sticky dough has formed.
- Work the dough by-hand or with a spatula to further activate and develop the vital wheat gluten (you should see strands forming) and to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Roll the dough into 28 balls (I found it easiest to weigh the dough for uniformity) and place evenly spaced on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the balls are firm to the touch, browned, and lightly crispy on the outside.
To serve as spaghetti and meatballs: Prepare your favourite tomato based pasta sauce and simmer the balls in the sauce to soften them slightly and allow them to absorb the flavours. Serve with spaghetti and a scattering of fresh parsley.
- Also fabulous in salads, in pitta with hummus and salad or with rice or other grains. I also loved a couple dropped in a bowl of minestrone soup!
Very low in cholesterol
High in dietary fiber
High in manganese
Very high in vitamin B6