French lentils and quinoa, rolled together with lots of mushrooms, garden veggies and a kick from a Chipotle seasoning!
Healthy vegan meatballs are loaded with flavor and substance. Even a meat lover will be fooled by these healthy vegan meatballs! Several years ago my daughter stopped eating meat. She had developed some digestion issues and decided to give her body a break. I tried making these vegan meatballs for her, during a family gathering, while everyone else had the choice of my yummy lamb meatballs. Who’d a thought the vegan meatballs would disappear first, and no… she didn’t eat them all!
WHAT IS A VEGAN MEATBALL
I’m always amazed that nearly every country around the world has some form of a meatball, fishball or legume-ball. When I discovered how substantial legumes could be, when cooked with lots of herbs and spices and then ground, they looked almost like ground meat. A vegan meatball is not just made with veggies, it’s just not made with meat.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN MEATBALLS
Once a legume is chosen to use as the substantial ingredient in a vegan meatball the rest is just like making any other meatball. I often use French lentils simply because they cook fast and when ground they really look like any ground meat. Red kidney beans are also fabulous for making a vegan meatball, particularly since they resemble the color of beef or lamb. Red beans do need a little more prep-time cooking, so just make a big pot, save half for your chili and the other half for vegan meatballs.
Making vegan meatballs has three easy steps before assembling:
- Cook the legumes
- Saute the vegetable
- Puree the legumes and vegetables together
WHAT SAUCE GOES WITH VEGAN MEATBALLS?
While a sauce is not really necessary with these yummy vegan meatballs, it sure does increase the many ways you might want to serve these vegan meatballs. A sweet and sour sauce would be great, then serve the meatballs over rice. A favorite tomato sauce, then serve the meatballs with pasta. My absolute favorite sauce is a roasted pepper sauce and then place both the sauce and the vegan meatballs, along with some spinach, over a pizza dough. Spectacular!
WHAT MAKES A VEGAN MEATBALL HEALTHY?
As much as meat is loved by most, myself included, meat really is more difficult for the body to digest and process. I learned this from observing the struggles my daughter has with digesting meat. Children also would benefit to be introduced to a vegan meatball replacement when they are young so that their little taste buds are educated early and it will become easier to sneak healthy veggies in that meatball too.
Healthy vegan meatballs are loaded with herbs, vegetables and lots of flavor so you can easily understand why my vegan meatballs were the first to disappear on the platter when I served both meat and vegan meatballs.
VEGAN MEATBALLS AND THEIR COST
It’s a no brainer, when it comes to softening the blow to a grocery budget, that meat is pricey, even ground meat. At an average of $4.99 per pound for most ground meats, maybe a little less for ground chicken, an 8 ounce bag of dried lentils costs under $2.00 and makes double the amount of meatballs. Now that, is just plain smart!
- Vegetable broth
- French lentils
- Quinoa or oats
- Olive oil
- Tomato paste
- Fresh herbs
- Chipotle seasoning
- Egg substitute or an egg
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Pot with a lid
- Slotted spoon
Broth – 2-3 cups (store bought or homemade)
French lentils – 3/4 cup, dried (or any legume)
Quinoa or Oats – 1/4 cup, uncooked
Olive oil – 1/4 cup
Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Carrots – 1 cup, finely chopped
Mushrooms – 1 cup, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
Tomato paste – 2 tablespoons
Corn – 2 cups, (canned or frozen/thawed)
Fresh herbs – a handful, parsley and oregano
Salt and pepper – to taste
Chipotle seasoning – 1/2 teaspoon
Egg Substitute – 1/4 cup (or 1 egg)
- Place broth, lentils, grain (quinoa or oats) and seasoning in a pot and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Make sure the lentils don’t dry out while cooking. Just before they are done, add the tomato paste, stir and cool. Puree in a food processor or blender.
- In a sauce pan, place the olive oil, onions, mushrooms, carrots and garlic. Simmer on low until the veggies start to soften. Do not fry. Spoon 1/4 cup of the lentil puree into the veggies, cover and simmer until everything is soft. Cool.
- Place the cooled, cooked veggies in a food processor or blender with the corn and herbs. Puree.
- Combine all of the pureed ingredients into a large bowl. Add the egg and seasonings. Stir well until the mixture comes together and can hold a form. Shape into balls, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (lightly oiled).
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
- Smoked salts or pepper add a lovely depth of flavor to the vegan meatball mixture. A sprinkle of vegan cheese adds another element of flavor to the mixture. Vegan meatballs are delicious on a sandwich, atop a pizza, with a favorite pasta or eaten alone.