Hello, everyone! I meant to post this before Christmas and then got a little bit sidetracked with, um, Christmas. Seems like a long time ago now…
My brother and his partner are currently giving veganism a go and so, as Christmas was at their house, we had to come up with something to contribute to the dinner that night. Normally, this wouldn’t be such an issue – Mum and I are already vegetarian – but because I have kidney issues, a lot of vegan-friendly foods are off the menu. No chickpea casserole or lentil burgers for me! So it became a little trickier to figure out what to bring. And I didn’t want to wuss out and bring something just for me to eat.
Mum was in charge of dessert, so I told her to just make apple pie which is easy to do (just substitute any butter in the pastry with a non-dairy spread) and we served it with soy ice-cream. Simple! So she got off lightly.
I had to figure something else out for a savoury dish. So I came up with these vegan “meat” balls. I don’t have an exact recipe – I was too busy testing and mixing to actually write down any measurements – but you will get the general gist of things here. It’s a bit of a keep-adding-stuff-until-you-get-it-right kind of recipe anyway.
Start with the binding agent, which in this recipe is flax seed meal. Add three tablespoons of water to one of flax meal and mix together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Now you need a large eggplant, chopped into small-ish pieces. Chuck in a frypan and saute with a little bit of oil. To stop it drying out, add a splash of water now and again. You’re going to want to cook it for a while until….
…it goes shmushy. Y’know, all soft and mushy and no longer holding its shape. Shmushy. Oh and while you’re doing that, blanch some broccoli florets in boiling water for about 3 minutes until it is tender but NOT shmushy. I used about 400g broccoli for this. Drain it and set aside while the eggplant is cooking.
Into a food processor, chuck the broccoli and eggplant, flax meal, five chopped spring onions (or you can use a small brown onion, chopped and sauteed with the eggplant), 200g of pine nuts, and about a cup of quick porridge oats. I also added a little vege stock powder for seasoning and some smoked paprika. Pulse in the processor, until it forms a sticky, combined blob. If it seems a little too sticky and wet, add some more oats or, if you’re not me, you could probably chuck in some besan (chickpea) flour.
Now, roll the mixture into little balls – about the size of a golf ball. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little more smoked paprika if desired.
Bake for 25 – 30 mins in a 180 C oven. Turn halfway through cooking time so they’re golden on all sides. They should be quite firm and crispy on the outside.
Serve with a nice tomato sauce (like you would regular meatballs). Yum!
These balls freeze really well and are delicious cold as well as hot. You can use them in place of mince in a “meatloaf” or burgers. As I said, my recipe is not exact – just go by feel and taste. The eggplant lends a nice meaty taste to the dish, but you could substitute everything else for something you prefer. Eg grated carrot instead of broccoli, breadcrumbs instead of oats, etc. And of course you could use egg instead of the flax, if you’re not vegan. Anything goes here! Just experiment a bit 🙂
Hope you give these a try and maybe invent your own version/recipe (using my crappy version as a blue-print). This recipe makes enough for a whole family and has the added bonus of not looking like they contain vegies (so fuss-pots will eat them too).
Thank you for stopping by x