Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Meatballs! Celebrating the Magical Meatiness of Mushrooms on Earth Day

I’ve wanted to turn our famous veggie burger recipe into a meatless meatballs recipe for a long time now, and figured there would be no more appropriate occasion than Earth Day to reveal the results. After all, as I joke about in the clip, eating mushrooms is about as close to literally consuming the earth as you can get.

Despite being completely free of meat, at least the animal kind, these “meatballs” were fantastic. Thanks to a thorough browning, the mushrooms provided more than enough savoriness, and the garlic, cheese, and parsley did the rest. As impressive as I thought the taste was, what really blew me away was how close the texture was to actual meatballs.

For me, the true test of any alternative meatless recipe is whether I would eat it again, based on taste and texture alone, and not just because it’s meatless. In this case, I would…many times over. No, I’m not giving up real meatballs, but for a delicious and vegetarian-friendly change of pace, these really were tremendous.

So, whether you're going to make these because you’re a vegetarian who has been searching for a meatless version, or you’re a hard-core meat eater who just can’t believe your ears and eyes, I hope you give these a try soon. Have a happy Earth Day, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 small meatballs:
(recipe can easily be doubled!)
1 pound white mushrooms, chopped into very small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt to sauté mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
packed 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce by weight, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very finely grated on a microplane
(Note: it looks like a ton of cheese in the video, but it was only 1-oz. Because I used a microplane to grate it, it created a huge looking pile of cheese. It would be about 1/2 cup if you measure, but use weight for this ingredient!)
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
pinch of dried oregano
2 eggs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce.
*Let mixture sit overnight in fridge. Bake meatballs for 12-15 at 450 degrees F., then simmer in sauce for 30-60 minutes before serving.

View the complete recipe