Meatless Meatballs

An old friend of mine from high school had been a strict vegetarian for seven years when one day someone in her office ordered a meatball sub. According to her, instead of being repulsed by the smell (as was usually the case) the smell drove her so insane with desire that she immediately ordered not one, but two meatball subs AND a chicken parmesan sub to be delivered to her office. She then proceeded to eat all three subs in one sitting while her insane coworkers cheered her on. Do not underestimate the power of a craving for something._MG_7859

I know that a good number of vegetarians/vegans avoid eating anything that even slightly resembles meat and seldom eat meat substitutes. I can appreciate that, but as someone that grew up eating meat, like myself, there are certain meals that just remind me of something. Certain smells cooking in the kitchen bring me to a happy place. The majority of flavor is related to our sense of smell and smells are very closely related to memories; consequently, the concept of comfort foods scientifically makes sense. We are often comforted by these flavors we remember experiencing in our childhood. So rather than trying to avoid “meaty” flavors, I aim to create vegetarian versions of familiar dishes that taste equally or even better than the original. This way I never feel like I am denying myself of anything. And although we are Cuban and not Italian, we ate our fair share of meatballs growing up.

I know many of the meat substitute companies now make pre-made meatless meatballs, but I’ve been making this recipe since before they did. I also like a lot of Italian seasonings, and I expect a specific flavor profile when it comes to meatballs that I feel cannot be matched by the pre-made ones on the market. So I make my own. It’s fun, and they’re quite delicious. They’re great on spaghetti or as an alternative they’re perfect if you have a hankering for a meatball sub._MG_7888

Makes 5 servings (3 meatballs per serving)

1 lb Gardein Beefless Ground
2/3 C Breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp parsley flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/3 C Grated parmesan cheese
1 egg slightly beaten
8 oz Tomato Sauce

Thaw beefless ground for approximately 1 hour prior to preparation in order to make handling easier.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 400°.  In a medium size bowl combine breadcrumbs, salt, spices and cheese. Set aside 1/3 C of the combined breadcrumb mixture. In a small bowl combine egg and tomato sauce. In a large bowl combine beefless ground and tomato and egg mixture. Then add breadcrumbs and combine fully. Place 1/3 C breadcrumb mixture that was set aside in the medium bowl. Take about a palmful of the beefless ground mixture and press it together to form a lime sized ball, then roll it in the breadcrumbs and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have all of your meatballs on the pan (should yield about 15 meatballs.) Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until meatless meaballs are golden brown and solid. In a large pot heat pasta sauce and gently add the meatless balls to the sauce. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Serve over whole wheat spaghetti or on a hoagie roll with provolone cheese. Buon appetito!



Nutrition facts per meatball (15 servings)
Calories: 107
Fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Potassium: 3.8 mg
Carbs: 11.4 g
Fiber: 3.4 g
Sugars: 3.7 g
Protein: 9.2 g
Vitamin A: 9%
Vitamin C: 6%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 9.6%

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