Fresh & Vegan “Meatballs”

I am a huge fan of the flavor and comforting aspect of meatballs. But what I don’t love so much are the negative health implications that often come with eating red meat. Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. That’s why I opt for this untraditional yet equally delicious vegan meatball recipe whenever I have the chance! The shiitake mushrooms provide a delicious umami flavor that pairs seamlessly with the garlic and tamari. And the walnuts provide a meaty texture that will satisfy all of your cravings.

Photo credit: BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped, stems removed

1 cup canned organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon garlic cloves, minced or grated

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon tamari

½ cup walnuts

1½ cups cooked brown rice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 

4-5 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup gluten free panko breadcrumbs

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until browned and soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add ½ cup of the black beans, garlic, the balsamic vinegar and tamari sauce, and cook for 2 minutes or until everything is well browned and soft. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts. Add the mushroom mixture and pulse 2 to 3 times until just combined. Do not puree or the mixture will be too mushy. Add the remaining ½ cup of black beans and pulse briefly. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the brown rice, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spread the panko breadcrumbs onto a plate. Form the mixture into 18-1½ inch balls and gently roll in the crumbs, using the breadcrumbs to pat the mixture into cohesive balls.

Place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve with your favorite marinara and enjoy!