You feel that chill in the air? It's that seasonal cool tingle that gently creeps down your back, surrounding your stomach, and makes you crave something hearty, heavy. While soup and casseroles are acceptable chilly weather meals, we think it’s high time to give meatballs the spotlight.
But these aren't just any meatballs -- they're meatless meatballs. Just because you abstain from meat doesn’t mean you need to forgo the wonderful mouthfeel (and satisfying taste) amazing meatless meatball recipes have.
1. Greens-Heavy Meatless Meatballs
We first spied this truly unique meatball recipe from Food52. While most meatless meatball recipes are heavy on the protein (think beans, faux meat crumbles, etc.), this recipe is mainly composed of glorious greens.
Serves 3 to 4 as an appetizer
1 bunch greens
3 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
Salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 or 2 eggs
Oil for frying
Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife. The idea is to keep the greens small but not mushy. Set aside the mixture and begin to heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the green concoction is soft and lightly browned (this should take about 10 minutes). Add in garlic, cilantro, and cumin seeds (stir for 30 seconds).
Add greens to the pan and sauté for a minute or two (they should be wilted). Put the mixture into a large bowl. After the mixture has cooled for five minutes, add breadcrumbs and feta. Mix well and taste for seasoning.
After you have the seasoning just so, crack one egg into the bowl and mix. Create a small ball -- if it holds together, begin portioning out the remaining mixture into small balls. If it doesn't hold together, add another egg.
Finally, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add balls to your pan. After they sizzle, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low and cook until golden (about 2 minutes). Use a fork to flip the balls to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
While this recipe gives no direction on how to serve these babies up, we think they’d taste amazing on some homemade pasta or atop a steamy stew.
2. Vegan Meatball Sliders
You don’t have to use an egg to form amazing meatless meatballs – all you really need are great ingredients! This recipe is proof of that fact. It comes from Chef Chloe.
Makes about 20 meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 onion, finely chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups cooked brown rice, cooled
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Canola oil for frying (or another oil of your choosing)
Slider buns or dinner rolls (choose a local grand if you can)
1 cup tomato sauce, heated
Pesto sauce (make or buy your own)
Fresh basil leaves
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion and mushrooms until both are soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes and transfer into a food processor.
Add cooled brown rice, bread crumbs, flour, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. If necessary, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix with your hands. Season the mixture to taste and let it cool slightly. Form the mixture into 1- or 2-inch balls (this will depend on bun size). Heat canola oil (or other oil of your choosing) in the reserved nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Pan fry the meatballs in batches and add more oil as needed.
Toast your buns and get ready to assemble the sliders. First, add a spoonful of tomato sauce, then a meatball, and finally, a spoonful of pesto sauce and a basil leaf. Serve immediately.
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Veggie meatball image from Shutterstock