These, my friends, are vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, high protein, low-fat, high fibre, orbs of deliciousness. If I do say so myself, I hit it out of the park with this creation.
I like meat as much as the next person, but strongly believe Michael Pollan's famous mantra regarding diet and health: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
And so, I do make an effort to limit my animal consumption.
I do also like some faux meats, particularly Gardein products such as their beefless tips, and Tofurky sausages. But these, like most commercially-produced meat alternatives, are high in sodium and extremely processed. So I try to limit my consumption of these too.
So what's a health conscious meat-lover to do?
I've been exploring various options for making my own faux meat at home. As you've seen in my other recipes, I often use lentils or organic tempeh to replace ground meat, but I have been wanting to make vegetarian sausage or meatballs and those options didn't seem appropriate for this purpose. I considered trying to work with wheat gluten (seiten), but for some reason, this idea intimidates me. So after much thought and consideration, I came up with this recipe and folks, no matter who or what you do or do not eat, I can guarantee you will love these!
I couldn't believe how much they look and smell like meatballs, nor how tasty they turned out. The ingredient list may seem long, but they come together quickly in the food processor and you can alter the seasonings to taste, or based on what you have in your pantry (but definitely add the whole fennel seeds!!). These can be frozen and they are very versatile. I used them to make amazing "meatball" wraps, but next time I'm going to make them with spaghetti.
1 cup sprouted bean mix (available at Costco and health food stores)*
3 cups water
1oz (about 8.5g) dried mushrooms**
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and halved
1 small zucchini
2 cloves garlic
2 tbls sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan, if necessary)
2 tsp Costco Rustic Tuscan Seasoning (or dried oregano)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tbls chickpea flour
2 tbls quinoa flakes (oats might work too)
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
Place beans and water in a large pot over high heat. Once water begins to boil, turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn off heat and let stand. Meanwhile, place mushrooms in food processor and process until finely ground (this will take a few minutes). Add shallot and zucchini and process until very finely chopped. Pulse until very finely chopped. Add all remaining ingredients except beans and process for another 10-15 seconds. Add drained beans and pulse until mixture is combined and sticks together (beans should be well chopped, but not pureed). Form mixture into small balls and place on baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes (be careful not to burn them). Let cool and then remove from sheet. Use as you would meatballs. Makes 30 balls.
*If you can't find sprouted beans, use 1 cup dried beans and then cook them yourself (Romano might be best?). I wouldn't use canned beans as the texture is too soft and you'll end up with a bean puree. Note that the cooking directions I have given are only for sprouted beans, regular dried beans take much longer and should be soaked overnight.
**I used shitake mushrooms because that's what I had in the cupboard, but since these are Italian, an Italian variety (like crimini) is probably even better.
I've entered this recipe in the Wellness Weekend contest over at the awesome Diet, Dessert and Dogs Blog. This is a great resource for creative, healthy recipes.