Meatless Monday – Veggie “Meat” Balls

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday and this post says “Meatless Monday.” That’s how things go sometimes, especially in a busy holiday season. No judgment, lots of grace!

Because their parents turned veggie before they were born, our kids have been vegetarian their whole lives. They’ve never had a beef burger. They’ve only had meat by accident.

At a Christmas party a year ago, Tween saw a platter of meat balls and commented aloud, “Oh, I can’t have those.” The gracious host replied, “Oh, yes, you can! They’re vegetarian.” He had one, and then another, and eventually we moved his sweet body away from the table so others could enjoy them as well.

Not long after, Friend scheduled time to teach Tween to make meatballs. Unlike his older brother, whose love for eating good food motivates him to cook good food, Tween hasn’t been overly motivated to learn to cook. But he had so much fun cooking with Friend, and I had fun watching her invest love and knowledge into her relationship with my son.meatballs in oven
meatball on spoon

As she prepared to host this year’s Christmas party, Friend invited Tween over to make another (double) batch of meatballs. For three hours they measured, chopped, sauteed, blended, stirred, and waited in expectation for that delicious first bite (Okay, it doesn’t really take three hours, but we talked and took breaks, Tween played with the dogs and the adults drank good wine – in other words, we enjoyed the process and the company).

Come party time, Tween proudly stood by the meatballs and invited guests to try them. Carnivores couldn’t believe vegetables could taste so savory-amazing. Don’t let prior experience with cardboard-tasteless, processed meat-less balls steer you away from this recipe. Try it for yourself!

Veggie “Meat” Balls

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 c Saltine crackers, finely chopped
2 c walnuts, finely chopped
1 c ground vegetable protein (such as 
Morningstar Grillers Crumbles)
4 eggs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 c Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Use a food processor on pulse to chop Saltines, then walnuts, then onions (because dry before wet makes things easier), setting aside each ingredient as it’s done. Saute onions. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend. Use a small ice cream scoop to form walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

1/2 c margarine
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c ketchup
2 1/2 c prepared BBQ sauce (we like 
this one)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 shakes liquid smoke

Saute onions. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over meatballs in a casserole dish and bake at 350 until warmed through, or place in a crock pot to warm and serve.

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