I love the versatility of meatballs and in my quest to cook meals that don’t rely on meat, I’ve had to use my imagination a bit. I recently picked up Vegetarian Everyday from the library and was pleased to discover a bean based “meatball” recipe, perfect for the gluten-free vegetarian. The couple that created this cookbook is from Sweden (they have a lovely blog I follow called Green Kitchen Stories) and they call these tasty legume-balls, polpette (which is a fancy word for meatballs, as far as my research can tell me). But anyway, the words flows off the tongue in such a beautiful way.
The photo does not do justice to the deliciousness of this meal, in fact it makes it look rather unappealing, but we loved these! I served them over a bed of zucchini and carrot noodles (long julienned veggie that I blanched in salted water) and we topped them with a little marinara sauce and a little arugula pesto.
RED LENTIL BALLS
(from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl)
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1 c. red lentils
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 c. rolled oats (use gluten-free, if needed)
1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt to taste
Rinse the lentils and place in a saucepan with 2 1/4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and cool slightly.
Mash the lentils with a fork. The consistency you want is mashed but still with some lentils left whole. Place in a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until everything is combined. Place int he fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 17-22 minutes. If you want, turn balls halfway through to get a more even shape and color.
Prepare pasta or veggie noodles and whatever sauce you want.
I found this meatball recipe on the Everyday Paleo blog. We love curry around here and I enjoy trying different recipes that use curry. These meatballs are full of flavor and fabulous served alongside some curry-spiced stir-fried veggies. The sauce that coats them is just enough for the meatballs, if you want to serve these over rice or pasta, you may want to double or triple the sauce recipe to allow a little extra yumminess to mix in. 🙂
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1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/3 cup finely diced apple
1/3 cup quick oats (use certified gluten-free oats for gf)
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, place all of the meatball ingredients and mix well (if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, I find it best to mix meatball ingredients with your hands). Form into golf-ball sized meatballs and place in a glass baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes 8-10 meatballs.
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
In a large skillet saute the garlic in the coconut oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey, curry powder, and tomato paste and whisk together. Add the chicken broth and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth. Bring to a simmer. After the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce and turn to coat well. Cover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
The other evening I had a flash of inspiration and wondered why there are Italian meatballs and Swedish meatballs and Greek meatballs, but no Mexican meatballs. So, I set out to make Mexican meatballs spiced with the smokey flavor of chipotle chile powder.
Not too spicy, with definite Mexican flavor, I wrapped these little meatballs in a soft corn tortilla, nestled on a bed of sautéed peppers and onions, topped with a bit of cheese, tomatoes, and guacamole. I call these Fajita Meatball Tacos (or something like that!).
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN MEATBALLS
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1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried cilantro flakes
1/2-3/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
splash of milk
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix all of the ingredients together and thoroughly work the spices into the meat (you may need to use freshly washed hands to do this).
Scoop 1-inch meatballs (or your preferred meatball size) onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Make into tacos or taco salad.
I was contemplating dinner and decided to incorporate the ingredients of a caprese salad into a meatball. So I picked some fresh basil, chopped some tomato, grated some parmesan, added a few other things and realized I was out of mozzarella. Oh well. They were good anyway. My original plan was to cube some mozzarella and form the meatball around it creating a melted, cheesy center when they were baked. I recommend it…it would be delicious.
I served these meatballs with a spiral, brown rice pasta tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I garnished the plates with fresh basil, grated parmesan, and another drizzle of olive oil. My family devoured it. I like how the tomatoes roasted in the meatballs and how light and simple yet beautiful this was. Next time, I will definitely stuff the cheese in them creating more of a twist on one my favorite salads – the caprese.
And as a side note, I’m hosting a family get together/family anniversary party this weekend and planning to make caprese salad on a skewer. We shall see how it turns out! I think it will be a beautiful presentation and a somewhat de-constructed version of the summery salad.
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1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 c. oatmeal
1/2 onion, finely chopped or grated (I was in a hurry and wished I had chopped it smaller)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c. parmesan, grated
1 Tb. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Shape into 1 – inch meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done. Makes about 35 – 40 meatballs.
*If desired, cube a block of mozarella cheese and form meatballs around the cheese before baking. Bake as directed.
It’s always nice to have something in the freezer that can be pulled out and turned into dinner quickly. Meatballs are a great option to have stashed in your freezer. You can make a big batch at once and freeze them in dinner-sized portions. And, you don’t need to limit yourself to spaghetti and meatballs when you do pull them out. Think beyond spaghetti sauce to sweet and sour meatballs with stir-fried peppers over rice, meatball sandwiches, meatballs in brown gravy over mashed potatoes, barbecue meatballs, meatball stroganoff, and meatballs tossed with pasta, cheese and roasted veg.
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1 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (to make gluten-free use gluten-free oatmeal or crumbs made from gluten-free bread)
3 Tbsp. dried minced onion (or you can use 1/4-1/2 cup fresh minced onion)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix. This is usually best done with your hands. I often make 3-5 pounds of meat at once, just multiplying each ingredient by whatever number of pounds of ground beef I have.
Line baking sheets with foil and place meatballs on top. I use a cookie scoop to scoop out one to one and a half inch meatballs. Bake the meatballs at 350F for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool. Freeze or enjoy right away.
I usually plan on a pound of ground beef per meatball meal for my family of 6.