For me, the true test of any alternative meatless recipe is whether I would eat it again. Based on taste and texture alone, and not just because it’s meatless.
In this case, I would. Oh yeah man, I definitely would!
It’s not like I’m giving up real meatballs or anything, but trust me when I say that these are without a shred of doubt the most delicious vegetarian-friendly meatballs ever.
Despite being completely meatless these “meatballs” are tremendously solid, kind of amazing, and truly fantastic.
And I’m totally understating how incredible these meatballs are.
To be honest I was skeptical that these could be as good as the real deal, but I stand corrected.
Thanks to a thorough browning, the mushrooms provide more than enough savoriness and umami while the onion, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, and oregano do the rest.
The taste is awesome, but what really impresses me is how close the texture is to actual meatballs.
Just like a real meatball, they have a firm outside and a melt-in-your-mouth center.
These meatless meatballs are delicious with spaghetti (or zoodles) and make a dynamite meatless meatball sub.
So, whether you’re going to make these because you’re a vegetarian who has been searching for a meatless version, or you’re a hard-core meat eater who just can’t believe your ears and eyes, I hope you give these a try soon.
Note. This recipe is pretty easy and simple but prep takes a bit of time. I recommend doubling the batch and freezing half for a later dinner or lunch.
Makes 20 meatballs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb / 453 gr white mushrooms, finely chopped (use the food processor to save time)
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup quick cooking oats
4 to 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free breadcrumbs)
4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 eggs, divided
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or any other cheese you prefer).
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with one pinch of salt and cook, stirring every so often until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the butter, and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Add onions and sauté for 5 further minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 further minute, until fragrant.
Transfer mushroom mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Stir in oats and mix until thoroughly combined. Add Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne pepper (if using).
Mix together with a fork until crumbly. Stir in remaining egg and mix to combine.
The mixture should hold together when pressed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight best).
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture, and with dampened hands roll into meatballs.
Arrange on the lined baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
At this point you can refrigerate or freeze the meatballs until ready to use, or use immediately.
Bring tomato sauce to a boil in a large skillet (or saucepan), lower to a simmer, and gently stir meatballs into the sauce until coated.
Simmer meatballs in sauce for about 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, cover with a lid and let the cheese melt (about 4 to 5 minutes).
Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve over spaghetti, zoodles, spaghetti squash, use them as a hoagie filling or — just like I did — eat them on their own.
One naked meatball (i.e., sans tomato sauce and cheese) yields 48 calories, 2 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein.