I’ve been playing around for awhile with my meatless meatball recipe. I was trying to duplicate Nate’s Meatless Meatballs, or at least my memory of them (since it’s been a few years since I’ve had Nate’s). I’m happy to report that I’ve achieved success at last!
These little puppies have a great texture that is, from what I can remember, very very similar to meatballs made from ground-up animals. In fact, I’m willing to bet you could fool carnivores with these. They are firm but not too chewy, with a slightly crumbly texture. I used a combination of textured vegetable protein (TVP), gluten, gram flour and breadcrumbs, as well as oil to keep them moist, plus spices and seasonings. I kept the seasonings quite neutral, so they could be used for anything from spaghetti & meatballs to sweet-and-sour meatballs to curried meatballs, and so on.
The first time I made them, I simmered them in broth, the way I do my seitan cutlets, but they didn’t hold together very well in the simmering broth. Now I steam them, which works great, followed by a brief session in the oven to make a slight crust on the outside.
Note that when they come out of the steamer, they will have developed a slightly flattened shape. If you wait a couple of minutes (until they’re cool enough to handle), you’ll be able to easily reshape them back into round balls.
Last night we had them with spaghetti and a simple homemade sauce, made by sauteing onion, sweet peppers and garlic in olive oil, then adding passata (tomato sauce), and seasoning with basil, oregano, salt & pepper. The meatballs were served straight from the oven, on top of the spaghetti and sauce, and not simmered in the sauce. I’ve tried simmering the meatballs in sauce previously and it works okay, but you end up with softer meatballs, and I think they’re nicer served firmer.
I use a mixture of groundnut (peanut) oil and coconut oil (which is actually solid at room temperature), but I’ve also made them just with groundnut oil and they’re fine like that too, though the coconut oil seems to give them a slightly firmer texture.
Delicious vegan meatballs
|60g||textured vegetable protein (TVP)||3/4 cup|
|125ml||prepared vegan beef-style broth||1/2 cup|
|1 teaspoon||Marmite||1 teaspoon|
|3 drops||gravy browning (optional)||3 drops|
|25 grams||very finely chopped onion||1/4 cup|
|1||clove garlic, minced||1|
|20g||coconut oil||1-1/2 tablespoons|
|1-1/2 tablespoons||vegetable oil||1-1/2 tablespoons|
|(or use 3 tablespoons vegetable oil)|
|1/2||vegan beef-style bouillon cube||1/2|
|(or equivalent amount for 1 cup of water)|
|1 tablespoon||soy sauce||1 tablespoon|
|1 teaspoon||vegan Worcestershire sauce||1 teaspoon|
|1/8 teaspoon||freshly ground black pepper||1/8 teaspoon|
|water as needed (see directions)|
|80g||vital wheat gluten flour||2/3 cup|
|30g||gram flour (besan, chickpea flour)||1/4 cup|
|2 tablespoons||dry breadcrumbs||2 tablespoons|
|1 tablespoon||nutritional yeast||1 tablespoon|
1. Make the TVP mixture ahead of time, as it needs to cool completely. Stir the prepared beef-style bouillon, Marmite and optional gravy browning together in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, add TVP and stir well. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes, then stir again and add onion and garlic. Set aside to cool completely. The mixture must be cold before adding the other ingredients.
2. Mix together the coconut oil and vegetable oil until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
3. For the liquid mixture, put beef-style bouillon cube in a glass measuring cup. Add a couple tablespoons of boiling water, and mix until bouillon cube is dissolved. Add ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Then add enough cold water to equal 165ml (2/3 cup). Set aside. Note that this must also be cold before adding to the other ingredients.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine wheat gluten, besan, breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast and stir well.
5. When TVP and liquid mixtures are cold, first add oil mixture to TVP and combine well. Then add the liquid mixture and stir again. Now add this to the gluten mixture and mix it until it is evenly combined.
6. Form into meatballs. I make 24 meatballs, each about 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter.
7. Prepare your steamer insert by lining it with greased parchment paper so the meatballs don’t stick (you can just grease the steamer insert without using the parchment paper, but they will stick a bit). Place meatballs in steamer insert with about a 2cm (3/4″) gap between them. My steamer is not very big, and I have to do the meatballs in three batches.
8. Bring an inch of water to boil in the bottom of your steamer, then turn heat down to maintain water at a simmer. Steam meatballs for 10 minutes, then carefully turn them over and steam for another 10 minutes. Remove them to a parchment-lined tray to cool. The meatballs will have flattened slightly in the steamer. Once they have cooled for a few minutes, you can gently reform them back into balls. Steam the rest of the meatballs the same way. Check the water level periodically to ensure the pot doesn’t boil dry, and add more boiling water if necessary.
9. When the meatballs are finished steaming, bake them at 180C (350F) for 10 to 15 minutes.
Makes 24 meatless meatballs.