Vegan Meatballs - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Vegan Meatballs

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

My Vegan Meatballs can satisfy even the staunchest critics of vegan cooking.  These meatless meatballs are hearty from the white beans and quinoa, rich umami flavor from the mushrooms and the combination of spices makes it super savory.  Serve my Vegan Meatballs with pasta and a red sauce, other grains or as an appetizer.

Why Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are popular in vegan cooking and are the star in my Vegan Meatballs because they have an umami flavor, lending a deep savory taste similar to meats like beef and pork.  It’s always recommended to cook mushrooms, due to naturally present toxins.  Cooking will destroy these toxins.

The most popular mushroom varieties are white button, cremini and portabella.  Although they look quite different, they are the same mushroom species,  Agaricus bisporus harvested at different stages.1  Each have their own culinary applications, white button are the most tender and great in salads, pizza and quesadillas.  Portabella’s hearty taste and meaty texture make them great for grilling and served as “burgers.”

Cremini mushrooms are in my Vegan Meatballs because they are ideal for sautéing and adding to savory dishes, they have the most rich and complex flavor of the three.  Make sure to thoroughly wash them before cooking! They tend to have a good amount of dirt on them from the farm.

If the mushrooms are fresh then the stems should be only slightly more firm then the head and are good to eat. If the stem is hard and fibrous I would recommend popping off.  Mushrooms stems make a great addition to vegetable scrap broth!

Mushroom Nutrition

Mushrooms are a type of fungi that has been a part of the human diet as both food and medicine for centuries. Mushrooms are biologically distinct from plants and therefore offer a unique nutritional profile.2  The 8 ounces of mushrooms in my Vegan Meatballs has 5.5 grams of protein, only 50 calories, 1.5 grams of fiber and is fat free.3

The unique part of mushrooms is their rich micronutrient profile.  They are a good source of Vitamin D, in fact the only source of Vitamin D in the produce aisle!  Also, when you enjoy my Vegan Meatballs you will enjoy a rich supply of B-vitamins thanks to the cremini mushrooms. 4

B -vitamins are a group of eight water soluble vitamins and provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  B-vitamins are also important for numerous aspects of brain function and are essential for our neurological and physiological health.  5

Let’s Get Cooking!

This recipe does have a lengthy ingredient list and provides a great opportunity to practice your mise en place, a French culinary term meaning “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” I recommend prepping all your ingredients ahead of time. By chopping and dicing the vegetables, cooking the quinoa, sautéing the mushrooms and collecting the spices ahead of time all you need to do is add everything to the food processor!

Seasoning

The spices I recommend for the Vegan Meatballs are a classic Italian blend and should not be skipped!  Feel free to use fresh herbs if you have them and add any additions like garlic chives and tarragon.  You can also add Worcestershire and mustard to give it a more savory flavor.

Chia Egg

Eggs are used in meatballs to bind all the ingredients together and the chia egg is a more than adequate replacement in my Vegan Meatballs.  To make a chia egg, mix chia with 2 ½ tablespoons of water, and allow to sit for 5 minutes to gel.  If you find the mixture is not forming balls well, then try adding a quarter to half cup of bread crumbs.

White Beans

White bean are my preferred beans in Vegan Meatballs because they have a creamy texture and mellow flavor that will not take away from the mushrooms.  In a half cup of white beans there are 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber (meat has no fiber!), and less than one gram of fat!  Beans are also an excellent source of iron, calcium, and potassium.6  Make sure to rinse the beans before enjoying to rinse off excess sodium.

Serving Suggestions

I like enjoying my Vegan Meatballs in a creamy sauce, like my Vegan Alfredo Sauce or Healthy Spaghetti Sauce Marinara with your preferred pasta.  They also go well with rice and pita!  Leftovers freeze well and are best enjoyed within three months.

 Similar Pages

Looking for more delicious vegan recipes? Try my Vegan Lentil Soup, Vegan Eggplant Curry, or Vegan Chickpea Salad.

References

  1. Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms | Mushroom Council. The Mushroom Council. https://www.mushroomcouncil.org/all-about-mushrooms/nutrition/. Accessed May 1, 2020.
  2. Feeney MJ, Miller AM, Roupas P. Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique. Nutr Today. 2014;49(6):301-307. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000063
  3. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168434/nutrients. Accessed May 1, 2020.
  4. Crimini. Mushroom Council. https://www.mushroomcouncil.com/varieties/crimini/. Accessed May 2, 2020.
  5. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2). doi:10.3390/nu8020068
  6. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/626714/nutrients. Accessed May 2, 2020.

vegan meatballs

Vegan Meatballs

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Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: mushrooms, plant based, vegan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions ~2 cups, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • 1 can 15.5 ounce white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chia
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil OR spray regular muffin tins with oil spray.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, add oil. Add onions and saute until translucent, approximately 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper and saute 15 minutes until most of the moisture is released and mushrooms are cooked down.
  • Add wine and deglaze skillet (scraping up brown bits). Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Add oregano, sage, red pepper flakes, parsley, and beans. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • In a small bowl, mix chia with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. Allow to sit approximately 5 minutes to set.
  • In a food processor, add entire contents of skillet mixture. Process until smoother (can be slightly chunky) and move into a bowl. Add in chia water mixture and combine well. Add in quinoa and mix well.
  • Form 12 balls the size of golf balls. Place each in a muffin tin spot or place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve on their own or with tomato basil or marinara sauce.

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