I guess the basis of the “meat” bit is a throwback to nut roasts and things like that, which is basically a combination of eggs, nuts and cheese that have a similar texture to meatloaf or sausage roll filling. I don’t know the science of it, I’m just super glad someone actually came up with it and we get to eat delicious things. Huzzah for food pioneers!
The first time I made these vegetarian meatballs, I deviated from the recipe a little bit, which required one to bake off the balls and then simmer them in a kind of broth. Given the amount of salty soup in the meatball mix and the salty broth to bathe them in, I got scared off and just completed half of the steps required. They were still pretty bangin’, so I chalked it up to a win.
I have also simmered them in a tomato sauce for the required moistness (yeah I went there) without the sodium overload, and I’ve also reduced the amount of soup mix in the meatball mixture itself and then done the broth simmer. Turns out it doesn’t matter how you make them, THEY’RE ALWAYS GOOD. And if you know me, you know I love a recipe that allows for a couple of budget cuts/shortcuts/exceptions for lazy people.
For your standard meatball-in-tomato sauce mix, you can really go any flavour way you want. Of course the obvious is to do an Italian-style with oregano and basil, but I’ve also gone a Greek flavourway (which is what these pictures are of) with lemon, oregano and a sprinkle of feta on top.
These days my balls are always yellow because the colour of our chickens’ yolks are brighter than the sun, but in a sauce nobody can really tell. Usually once you bake the balls off they come out quite brown and very meatball-looking. My other tip would be to roll them fairly small – they do expand in the oven somewhat and nobody really wants a choking mouthful of balls.
Recipe adapted from Vegetarian “Meatballs”.Print
- 4 Large eggs, beaten
- 1 packet dry Onion Soup Mix (Find whatever works for you, I usually go for Contintental French Onion Soup Mix though that does change the flavour somewhat from regular onion soup. It’s good though!)
- 2 cups grated cheese
- 3/4 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- your choice of seasoning depending on what flavour you’re going for – basil, oregano, and garlic are a good start!
- 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can tomatoes (I always use whole tomatoes and chop them as they cook)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pinch sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- your choice of herbs and spices to flavour
Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together the beaten eggs, onion soup mix, cheese, walnuts, breadcrumbs and seasoning until completely combined.
Step 2: Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour.
Step 3: Preheat your oven to 200C.
Step 4: Roll the filling into small balls and place on a greased or lined tray, a centimetre or so apart, to allow for spreading.
Step 5: Bake for 20 mins, turning once or twice to ensure they brown evenly. They will go a little bit flat in places.
Step 6: While the balls are baking, saute your garlic gently over medium low heat in the olive oil and butter.
Step 7: Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper and your choice of seasoning.
Step 8: Turn up to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer.
Step 9: Add your vegetarian meatballs to an oven-safe dish and pour the sauce over. Dot with cheese and pop in the oven until all is hot and bubbling.
Step 10: Awesome with extra cheese over the top, a drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of fresh herbs.