Since becoming a vegetarian there aren’t many things I miss. Except my Grandma Josie’s meatballs! She was one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. In typical Italian Grandma fashion, she cooked with a lot of love!
I never thought I would be able to enjoy her meatballs again.
My mom (mum mum to Noah) created the most delicious vegan meatballs! I almost spit out the first bite I took because I thought she was playing a horribly mean joke on me! They tasted legit!
The original recipe uses eggs and parmesan cheese. To veganize the recipe we used a “chia egg” instead and omitted the cheese. I will give the recipe for both! To make them gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free pasta. You can use store-bought marinara sauce or make your own. Here is one of my favorite sauce recipes from Giada. It is packed with veggies and flavor!
This recipe is a bit involved as you need to prepare the ingredients and let them sit over night. It’s worth the wait…trust me
Ok, enough talking…here it is!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound fresh white mushrooms, very finely chopped (around 6 cups)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup quick-cooking oats (GF if needed)
- ½ cup bread crumbs (GF if needed)
- ¼ cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
- 2 "eggs" (2 tablespoons chia or ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons water, set aside for a few minutes so gel can form)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- (for a non-vegan option, use real eggs and add 1 ounce of shredded parmesan cheese)
- 4 cups of marinara sauce
- pasta of your choice
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and season with salt. Cook until golden brown and all liquid has been evaporated.
- Add chopped onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic, stir and cook until fragrant. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Mix in oats (cheese if desired), bread crumbs, parsley, "eggs," sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Mix well until combined. If pressed, mixture should hold together.
- Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Measure out 2 tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Place on lined baking sheet.
- Bake until meatballs are lightly golden brown, around 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.
- Bring marinara sauce to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat to low. Gently stir meatballs into sauce until coated. Simmer meatballs in sauce until cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (this step is really important...don't skip!)
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package.
- Serve meatballs and sauce over cooked pasta.
We’ve made these a few times and learned a few things along the way…
-Make sure you chop the mushrooms very, very fine.
-Don’t skip the cayenne pepper. You don’t need to add much, just a hint!
-Bake them until a little crispy on the bottom for a more savory flavor.
-Make a double batch as they disappear quickly!
This is a perfect way to introduce a plant-based meal to a meat-eating crew on meatless monday!