meatless meatballs

This recipe came into my possession just a few short months ago, but I’ve already put it through the wringer.

Tried it with cooked couscous instead of bulgur–a little wet.

Oat flour (processed in my food processor) instead of breadcrumbs–actually pretty good.

Different quantities of eggs (anything to save those yolks!)–don’t do it.

Different spices, parmesan, no parmesan, vinegar, no vinegar…

Refrigerated the batter–pretty good, but didn’t hold together as well while simmering in its bath of tomato sauce.

Froze the batter–eh, worse than refrigerating. Shoulda known.

Froze the whole deal-meatballs + sauce-after cooking–success!!

We’ve eaten a lot of (meatless) meatballs.

(No complaints, here.)

So, here’s my well-tested final version…equally good over spaghetti, a bowl of brown rice (porcupine meatballs were a childhood favorite), or spooned over a bun, topped with provolone, and set under the broiler until toasted and melty.  Mmmmm.

Off to attack that pesky to-do list! 4 weeks to hitchin’! Wish me luck! :D


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Meatless Meatballs (adapted from the Daily Dish)

serves 4 (about 15 meatballs)

Okay…notes…I often make a double batch of this meatball batter to use up a whole 8-ounce package of mushrooms, cook them all in two separate pans with two jars of sauce, then cool and freeze them for a rainy day. Defrost in refrigerator overnight, microwave on low power. Or freeze them in a foil pan and reheat them in the oven later.

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup sliced scallions or diced white onion

1/2 a teaspoon each: oregano, parsley, basil (dried)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

a pinch of salt, black pepper to taste

a 1-ounce chunk of parmesan cheese (about 3 tablespoons grated), plus extra for serving

1/3 cup instant couscous, uncooked

1/3 cup walnuts

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 large egg

2 large egg whites


24-ounce jar spaghetti sauce (Trader Joe’s brand is really good)


In a 6-quart dutch oven or a very wide, deep skillet with a lid…heat the oil over medium. Add the sliced mushrooms and onions; cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in dried spices and salt/pepper. Let cool.

Process the parmesan cheese in a food processor until powdery. Set aside.

Scrape the mushroom/onion mixture into the food processor; add couscous and walnuts. Pulse until coarse, scraping down the sides. Add breadcrumbs, egg, egg whites, and 1 ounce parmesan cheese. Pulse until very well-combined, scraping down the sides again. Let the batter sit to absorb liquid while the tomato sauce comes to a simmer.

Empty the jar of spaghetti sauce into the same pan you used to cook the ‘shrooms. Put about 1/2 a cup of water in the jar and shake around to get all the sauce out; pour into pan. Stir sauce; cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. I use a 3/4-ounce scoop (about a tablespoon) to scoop the batter into the simmering sauce, avoiding putting any in the center since I have a gas stove. Cover and cook, lowering the heat to medium-low–enough to maintain a low simmer throughout the pan, for about 25 minutes, until firm. Use a spoon to gently turn the meatballs over halfway through.

Serve over cooked pasta or rice, sprinkled with extra parmesan.

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