Friends, let me present to you … The Perfect Meatless Meatball! I know, that’s a pretty big statement, but this one really lives up to it. I am so thrilled with how it came out. Taste, texture….it’s all there.
These meatless meatballs are mushroom-based. I had tried a recipe (or two) many moons ago that never made it to this site because it just didn’t hold together. That, however, was prior to my discovery (and love for) the flax “egg” mixture. If you are unfamiliar, we blend ground flax with water, refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes, it become gelatinous (like an egg) and is the single most amazing binder I have found for recipes like this. It really is my go-to egg-replacer.
I used baby Bella and White Button mushrooms but you can use whatever you have. In hindsight, I would have combined several because the flavor would be even richer. The secret here is to hand chop them with a sharp chef’s knife – NO FOOD PROCESSOR. We want that texture to remain, so we roughly chop them into a coarse, but small, dice.
In a tablespoon of oil, we saute them with a good pinch of salt on medium-high heat. The salt draws out the moisture and you’ll want to continue to saute them until that liquid cooks out and the mushrooms brown. The salt is really important here.
The onions are next and you have two options. You can add them right into the mushrooms with your vegan margarine or….for even more depth of flavor, use a separate saute pan with the same tablespoon of vegan margarine and cook until soft and golden brown. Once they start to caramelize, they take on a whole different flavor (which I happen to love). They lose that raw onion flavor, if that makes sense.
Then we add in the oats, breadcrumbs, vegan parm, seasonings, etc. and it looks a little something like this… Technically, you could use the mixture now BUT, for the best texture and flavor, refrigerate for several hours. I promise you, this makes all the difference. Letting it rest gives the dry ingredients time to absorb the moisture of the wet ingredients, as well as allowing the the flavors to really develop. At this stage it should hold together, but if you think it looks a bit dry and doesn’t hold, add a little bit more water or a splash of almond milk.
With a small scoop, drop into uniform balls onto a lined baking sheet Using slightly wet hands, form into smooth meatballs. Use a little pressure as you roll. We want them compact.
They look pretty darn convincing, right?
We baked them at 425 degrees for about 10-15 minutes (depending on size) until just golden. Don’t let them go too long, or the edges will get a little tough. We aren’t looking for that.
Today I served them with a marinara and rigatoni, but the possibilities are endless. The basic meatball recipe can be used for meatball subs, sweet and sour meatballs, stroganoff, stuffed meatballs (stick a little cube of vegan cheese in the center), meatball sliders…I could go on and on. Just adjust your seasonings accordingly, i.e. omit things like oregano if using for something like sweet and sour meatballs. They just don’t go together.
Just look at that texture when you cut into it! They really are The Perfect Meatless Meatball and this is a recipe I will use again and again. Bon Appetit!
- 1 Tbl Oil
- 1 lb. of Mushrooms (button, cremini, baby bellas or a mixture), chopped into small dice
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/8 tsp Pepper
- 1 Tbl vegan Margarine (we love [url href=”http://earthbalancenatural.com/product/vegan-buttery-sticks/”]Earth Balance Buttery Sticks[/url])
- 1 small Onion, diced finely
- Minced Fresh Garlic, to taste
- 1/2 C Oats (Quick-Cooking)
- 2 Tbl Vegan Parmesan (we love [url href=”http://www.goveggiefoods.com/products/grated-topping/dairy-free/parmesan”]GO Veggie! Dairy Free Parmesan Topping[/url])
- 1/2 C Bread Crumbs (plain if you are making appetizers, Italian if using for pasta sauce)
- 2 Tbl. Ground Flax + 7 Tbl Water, allow to sit refrigerated for 20 minutes
- 1/8 tsp Oregano (omit if using for appetizers)
- 1 tsp Grainy Mustard (updated addition)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire (updated addition)
- 1/4 C Fresh Parsley, chopped
- Prepare mushrooms by removing stems, wiping clean (or giving a [i]super quick[/i] rinse under water and drying with paper towels if really dirty). Dry completely.
- Using a knife, not a food processor, chop mushrooms into a fine dice. No large pieces.
- In a skillet on medium-high heat, add the oil and chopped mushrooms.
- Season immediately with salt and pepper. The salt will draw out the moisture in the mushrooms. Continue to cook until all moisture has evaporated.
- Meanwhile, dice the onions finely.
- In a separate saute pan, add the vegan margarine and the onions. You can reduce the heat to medium at this point. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and just starting to caramelize. They should be soft and moist, golden in color, but not crisp. You can add additional margarine if necessary.
- NOTE: You could add the onions directly to the mushroom mixture to cook, but I really feel like the separate cooking time allowing them to caramelize adds to the depth of flavor of the finished meatball.
- Add onion mixture to mushroom mixture, which should now be golden brown.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the minced garlic. It will cook a little from the residual heat of the pan.
- Prepare the flax “eggs” by combining the ground flax with water and allowing to sit in the refrigerator. It will become gelatinous and be our binder for the meatballs.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- Add the oats, vegan parmesan, bread crumbs parsley and flax mixture. Combine with a fork until coarse and crumbly.
- Add the mustard and worcestershire.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add oregano if using for pasta and sauce. Omit if using for an appetizer, such as sweet and sour meatballs.
- At this point the mixture should hold together. If it seems a bit dry, add another Tablespoon of water (or you could add a splash of almond or coconut milk).
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Preferably overnight. This will allow the moisture to permeate the dry ingredients and the flavors to meld.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Using a small scoop, form uniform balls onto a lined sheet pan. Using moist hands, roll into smooth meatballs.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes. They should be slightly golden but not browned.
- If using for pasta sauce, this would be the point where I would finish cooking them in the sauce.
- If using for appetizer meatballs, finish cooking them in the sweet and sour sauce.
- Since we are not using eggs or raw meat here, they just need to be heated through and hold their form.
- The end result? The perfect meatless meatball!