Make Your Own Veggie Meatballs

Thursday, March 20, 2014

millet vegetarian meatballs
By Catherine Cioffi, RD Contributing Blogger

One of my favorite ways to pair plant proteins is with the veggie “meatball”.  The meatball in general has become a new trend in the food service industry, from upscale restaurants to fast casual chains.

In response to the growing number of vegetarians and vegans, many restaurants have also created “meatballs” that have no meat at all. For example, The Meatball Shop in New York City is equally known for its meat and non-meat items.

Veggie Meatball: How-To
Below are general steps for creating a veggie “meatball”:

Step 1: Pick your source of protein

  • Beans, peas, or lentils
  • Edamame, tofu, or tempeh
  • Nuts or seeds

 

Step 2: Add a hearty whole grain

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Bulgur

 

Step 3: Bind it together with a liquid or binder

  • Egg, egg beater or egg substitute
  • Water
  • Milk

Note: If the meatballs are too liquidy, add panko, breadcrumbs, or rolled oats

 

Step 4: Optional add-ins

  • Chopped, grated, or mashed vegetables (pre-cooked): such as sweet potatoes or winter squash, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant, or celery.
  • Chopped garlic, onions, or scallions.
  • Shredded cheese: Parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella
  • Fresh herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano.
  • Spices: cumin, coriander paprika, curry powder

 

Step 5: Combine in a food processor or blender, roll into balls, and bake or pan-fry

  • For baking, pre-heat your oven to 375F and bake for 30 minutes, stopping halfway through to turn meatballs onto their other side.
  • For a healthier pan-fry, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium skillet. Pre-heat to medium, and pan-fry meatballs for 5 minutes on each side.

 

Recipe To Try
For your first time experimenting with veggie meatballs, it’s best to follow a pre-tested recipe to get the hang of things. Below are links to a few creative examples to get started.

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