Most people I know love ‘meatballs’ (we love the veggie equivalent), what fun ! Yummy, scrummy balls of nutritious, delicious ingredients, packed with vitamins and converted into delectable little balls, with a delightful texture and irresistible flavour. My mother also used to make delicious ones – sadly with meat – but these are the meatless ones, with just as much flavour and just as many thumbs-up points. I have always found the concept of meatballs in a rich tomato sauce to be a comforting prospect for lifting the spirits, as well as a ‘looking forward to’ label attached to a pleasurable sit-down meal – to share with either friends or family, or both. I suppose the added bonus of chewing into the tender balls, sucking in the spaghetti, and inevitably splattering the amazing sauce – all add to the pleasure of eating such a meal. I think it is the textures, tastes, colours and aromas that excite the palette so. Well, what are we waiting for ???
Serves 4-5 (makes 24 ‘meatballs’)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE ‘MEATBALLS’
- 2 slices of dry wholemeal bread (crusts cut off)
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh mint (or half the amount in dried mint)
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley (use a little stem too)
- ½ a grated carrot
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp wheat-germ
- 1 tsp vegetable stock granules (use a salted version)
- 1 tsp curry
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamon
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- 3 large mushrooms, roughly chopped (and fried)
- 1 tsp egg replacer (mixed with 1 tsp water into a paste)
- 14 pecan halves
- 3 tbsp whole-meal flour
- 1 cup of red quinoa, washed and boiled (remove and drain when ready)
- extra virgin olive oil for frying
METHOD FOR THE BALLS
Start off by placing the bread, nuts, herbs and spices in a food processor, and process until all are very finely chopped. Next, throw in the onions, garlic and carrot, and process for a further minute or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, except for the olive oil and quinoa, and process (remove any excess from the sides of the mixer using a spatula). Now add in the cooked quinoa, cooked mushrooms, and egg replacer mix, and process for a few seconds only, so that you are left with a very thick mixture. Remove into a large bowl, and place in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Next sprinkle a large plate with flour, then make sure your hands are totally dry and floured. Begin to take a tablespoon of the meatball mixture at a time, and roll for a few seconds in the palms of your hands, until a ball is formed. Continue to do this, placing the balls on the floured plate, until you have used all the mixture. Sprinkle a little more flour on the top of them, and place them in the fridge for a further 40 minutes or longer if preferred, so that they bind well prior to frying.
When they are ready, heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick frying plan, and one by one place the balls in the pan, and allow to fry on a medium to low heat, until they are a nice golden brown all over. Then transfer them into an ovenproof glass dish, and place in the oven on a low heat. Now it’s time to make the sauce.
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (4 – 5 cloves will do)
- 8 cherry tomatoes, left whole (to compete with the ‘meatballs’ !)
- 4 tbsps tomato puree
- 2 tins (800g) of chopped tomatoes
- a handful of fresh oregano, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsps HP sauce (brown sauce)
- ½ glass of red wine
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp muscovado sugar
METHOD FOR THE SAUCE
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan on a medium to low heat, and add the garlic, mixing all the time so that it does not burn – half a minute is ample. Now add the cherry tomatoes, then the tomato puree, and a little more oil. Mix, and allow to cook until the oil turns orange.
Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the wine. Allow to simmer covered, until the sauce thickens nicely – around 20-30 minutes should do it. Next, add the wine a little at a time whilst the sauce is still simmering. Finally add the HP brown sauce. Continue mixing for a further five minutes.
When you are left with a thick rich sauce, carefully remove the meatballs from the oven, and place them into the sauce. Serve immediately onto spaghetti. Use vegan cheese as a topping if you wish, drizzle some olive oil, and garnish with parsley. You can sprinkle on some faux parmesan (I use the vegan version called dairy free Parmazano by MH Foods). Bon, Bon Appètit !
(Photographed piping hot – the smell is just so appetizing !)
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