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One of the best meals I have ever made: Vegetarian Meatballs.

I love to cook. I've made some great meals in my time and most of the really great ones involved some meat or seafood. Ribeye, scallops, tuna or even chicken or pork. But this vegetarian meatball recipe is in my top 10 for sure. I sourced the crux of the recipe via the video I link to below. I modified some of the ingredients, but it's basically the same.

Ingredients for 16 small meatballs with my changes from video:

1.5 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 shallots (video uses onion)

4 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup instant oatmeal

1/2 cup (oat bran) video calls for bread crumbs

packed 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (video says parsley)

handful of shredded cheddar and provolone cheese (video uses Parmigiano-Reggiano -which is certainly more traditional. I just didn't have any on hand and it really just acts as a binder/salt agent)

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste as well as paprika.

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.

Here is a video that helped me along: Meatball Video

Here are some pics:

First thing you do is chop up a whole bunch of mushrooms

Then you sauté the mushrooms till they brown. Then add in the shallots till they brown slightly. Then you turn off the heat and add garlic and stir it in. Then take contents and put it in a mixing bowl. Add the oatmeal, salt, pepper, oat bran and an egg and mix together. Add oregano, cayenne, paprika and another egg. Mix together and it should look something like this:

Keep this mixture in the fridge overnight. The next day make them in to balls and place them in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes. They should come out looking like this:

Then place them in your pasta sauce and let them sauté for at least a half hour. I let mine sauté for 45 minutes. It looked like this:

Here is a shot of the completed meatballs:

What kid doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs?

Oh, and a nice red with some tannins to cut through that sauce is recommended:


humanodon 671 days ago   ·   link

This looks pretty good. What kind of paprika did you use?

Here is a sauce recipe (which is kind of a pain in the butt, because red sauce is a pain in the butt to make):

You will need :

1/2 a yellow onion (grated)

1 carrot (grated)

1 stalk celery (finely minced. First cut into fine strips and then cut against the grain)

3 - 6 cloves of garlic (at least two crushed and one grated with a microplane or a zester if you like a lot of garlic flavor)

Some tomato paste (the kind in a tube is better than the cans, but canned is cool too)

3 large, dried bay (laurel) leaves

1 or 2 basil plants worth of fresh basil leaves (chiffonaded) and their stalks (finely chopped)

Some parsley

Some fresh thyme or oregano

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

A little unsalted butter

A little honey

Lemon (and its zest, if you like)

Some paprika (I like smoked)

A couple chili peppers (dried or fresh)

Some red wine

A rind from a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Peccorino Romano, whatever you've got

3 lbs or 1.5 kg fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (to do this, blanch and then shock in ice-water) but not chopped.

Saute onion, carrot, celery and basil stalks in olive oil and butter with the bay leaves and a pinch of salt until the carrot, celery and basil stalks are soft, med-low heat. Add garlic, chili peppers and paprika and cook a few minutes longer, adding more oil or butter as needed. Add about 1.5 tbsp tomato paste and a little honey, to take away the sourness and make sure everything is coated in it. Add one or two glasses of wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let it reduce a little. Add the tomatoes and salt generously. Throw in the cheese rind. If you want to get fancy, this is a good time to add roasted red peppers. Allow to simmer for . . . well, drink the rest of the wine at least, stirring often and scraping the sides down, tasting each time. When the tomatoes have broken down to your liking, add the chiffonaded herbs and the lemon zest and remove from the heat and add some olive oil and some black pepper. Ideally, allow the sauce to cool completely and allow it to rest at least overnight. If the sauce is salty when it's cool, add some lemon juice and/or some honey. If it is too spicy, add some honey or sugar. If it tastes burnt, throw it away. Or eat it, bitterly.

Anyway, that's how I make sauce. Yeah, it comes out a little different each time, but I like the results I get.

Edit: Also, fish out the bay leaves and the cheese rind and discard them.

Edit 2: The proportions of the onion, carrot and celery should be roughly the same, but more carrot and onion than celery.

kleinbl00 671 days ago   ·   link

that. looks. awesome.

Start to finish 3hrs? 4?

humanodon 671 days ago   ·   link

I'd say 4, including prep time. That's another reason why the wine is in there even though it's optional: it helps to make it a social (or at least fun) thing.

kleinbl00 670 days ago   ·   link

Oh I'm all over this. Maybe even making extra for canning.

humanodon 670 days ago   ·   link

Cool, I hope it comes out well!

_refugee_ 670 days ago   ·   link

Whelp, I know what I'm making for dinner tonight.

I make my own red sauce, usually, but I do a quick-and-lazy version. I've never used a recipe, and the sauce comes out OK - I usually just chop up a bunch of tomatoes and pour on some sauce and then throw in random herbs and garlic. It's fun. Also, I've found making your own sauce tends to impress people (by people, I mean dates, haha). It's not that hard but it elevates spaghetti from a cheap meal into "Oh! This person is doing it legit!" It's been a long time since I've even done that, to be honest.

cliffelam 670 days ago   ·   link

I love me some veggies, but you can't call them meatballs. Say it with me: meat (pause) balls. What's wrong here?


zebra2 670 days ago   ·   link

Reminds me of some awesome vegetarian sausages my vegetarian roommates would get years ago. Not like meat, but absolutely delicious. They said they got them from whole foods but I could never find the same ones.

And good mushrooms, if done right, can be as savory and delicious as fine steak. Totally awesome.

steve 671 days ago   ·   link

on a scale of 1-10, how "mushroomy" do they taste... I've got a thing about fungus. And as many times as I try to cure myself of that thing... I struggle.

kleinbl00 671 days ago   ·   link

As soon as someone posts a decent spaghetti sauce recipe I'ma try this. No offense to the meatballs, but if I'm going to get myself involved in an "overnight' recipe it's bloody well not gonna involve Prego.

Only other "overnight" recipe I have right now is my thanksgiving stuffing, which is DA BOMB

thenewgreen 671 days ago   ·   link

No offense taken. That is a valid point and I'd be ashamed to admit that I used a store bought sauce... but the thing is, I like that sauce. A lot. I use Whole Foods brand 3 cheese marinara. I add garlic, whole tomato chunks and some shallots to it. I sauté the garlic and shallots in butter first, browning them and then add some red wine and then... in an act of complete laziness add in the store bought sauce.

Still, it was damn good. I'm definitely interested in making humanodon's sauce though. Hell, we should have a Hubski pasta night sometime and compare notes.

Check out those vegie meatballs though, they're seriously good. Also, steve they no longer taste like mushrooms but rather like the culmination of the spices used. The mushrooms make it meaty though and provide a fantastic texture to carry the flavor. Really quite good.

humanodon 670 days ago   ·   link

For me, "mom's spaghetti" means tomato and basil Prego with some frozen meatballs thrown in and some spices and maybe a tomato thrown in. Still good and still homey, but I don't make it for myself.

Anyway, pasta is a comfort food. I don't think you should be ashamed. It's like our exchange before when we were talking about liking nacho cheez. It's all about context. Heck, I've seen more than one chef friend eat a Kraft singles grilled cheese on Wonderbread with Campbell's tomato soup and enjoy the shit out of it just as much as they would the gourmet versions, but for different reasons.

kleinbl00 670 days ago   ·   link

I haven't found any spaghetti sauce I don't like. That said, it seems like bad karma to blow that much effort on the meatballs and then dump a jar of something on them.

I've got a family recipe for meatballs that came out of a vintage '60's Betty Crocker cookbook that, supposedly, was created by Marlon Brando. It's got three kinds of meat but it only takes an hour or two.

steve 671 days ago   ·   link

    Only other "overnight" recipe I have right now is my thanksgiving stuffing, which is DA BOMB

care to share? That's one thing that I know could be great, but despite many attempts, it's usually only good.

kleinbl00 671 days ago   ·   link


We make it the day before, then stuff. I guess you don't have to do that but Tday is busy 'round my house and I like to chillax as much as possible.

GENERAL COOKING PROTIP: Whenever you're feeling experimental, type a couple ingredients into allrecipes.com and make anything rated better than 4.5 stars with more than 500 reviews. If 500 allrecipes tweakers liked it that much, that means it's a bomb-proof recipe and you can modify to your heart's content.

steve 671 days ago   ·   link

    type a couple ingredients into allrecipes.com

I do love me some allrecipies. thanks!

cW 671 days ago   ·   link

Wow, delicious synchronicity! Tonight, I venture two sandwich experiments, one a veggie recreation of _the best_ sandwich Olive and I have ever had (involving turkey -- hence the need for improvisation), and the other, a no rules, take it over the top hot-sub introduction to seitan, a substance we've been meaning to explore awhile. Will let you know how it goes, with illustration, if the planning is strong in this one (it usually isn't).

Beautiful pics. I see so many friends, and feel like I'm there. Wish we were. And we must try this recipe. Thanks for sharing. We have a thing for fungus too ... and it's a good thing.

thenewgreen 570 days ago   ·   link

I think I'll make these meatballs when you two come to visit next weekend. What do you think?

cW 567 days ago   ·   link

Oh man ... I am pretty excited about these! Not to mention the cocktail possibilities, which seem to be increasing by exponents. Perhaps we can venture one of our veggie sandwich recreations? "The Birdwood," sans oiseaux?

thenewgreen's previous #recipes and #vegetarian posts: