I never really thought meatballs were anything special. It might be because my mom used to serve spaghetti with Italian sausages, so meatballs seemed bland in comparison. Obviously, when I gave up meat, I didn’t really think about a future without meatballs. That is, until I saw a post about a vegetarian version on No Meat Athlete. For some reason, those seemed far more appealing to me than the original variety ever did.
There isn’t too much prep work involved in these – chop up a few things and measure a few others, then process them all together in the food processor and fry in a skillet. They don’t have exactly the same texture as meatballs would, but the flavor is great, and they’re definitely healthier than ground beef! I tossed mine with some marinara and served them over whole wheat spaghetti, and with a green salad it was a perfect, satisfying Sunday night dinner.
makes about 20
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped white button mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
whole wheat spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
To make the wheat balls:
Combine the chickpeas, mushrooms, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Transfer everything to a large bowl and mix with your hands for a minute or two.
Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Roll about 2 tbsp of the chickpea-mushroom mixture between your hands to make a ball and place in the skillet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned all over (5-7 minutes).
Toss with a little marinara and serve over cooked pasta.