Most vegetarian “meatball” recipes rely on soy “meat” to create that classic meaty texture - a real problem if you are limiting sodium or avoiding soy, gluten, dairy, GMOs, or heavily processed food substances.
I developed this recipe when we started removing fake meat from our diet, and have made several variations of it as my dietary restrictions have demanded.
When I’m nursing my babies, I am dairy-, soy-, gluten-, and nut-free, at the very least. I love this recipe for the wonderful savory chewiness that I crave so much when on an elimination diet!
Laura’s Vegetarian, Soy-free, Sweet & Sour Meatballs
1 pound mushrooms (I used a mix of portabello, cremini, and white)
2 medium onions
3-4 c crumbled soda crackers (only add more if your mix is too wet. Also, any gluten-free cracker will do; I like these)
1 c walnuts (I’ve successfully used sunflower seeds when I’m nut-free - be careful not to over-process)
1/4 c vital wheat gluten (if you’re gluten-free, Arrowroot or Tapioca starch works well here)
2 tsp sage
2-3 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt (or to taste, before you add the eggs, of course!)
3 large minced garlic clove
In a food processor, pulverize the clean, trimmed mushrooms until they are the texture of ground beef. Put into large mixing bowl.
Process the onions, soda crackers, and walnuts separately and add to the mixing bowl.
Add vital wheat gluten (or arrowroot/tapioca starch), and spices (tasting for salt), then add eggs and mix gently. The mix should easily stick into balls, but shouldn’t be gloppy. You can always add more crackers.
Scoop into walnut sized lumps and bake 30-40 minutes on cookie trays @ 350 degrees. They should be slightly crispy on top.
Sweet & Sour Sauce:
1 bottle (1 ½ c) BBQ sauce (Annie’s Naturals makes a gluten-free one)
36 oz apricot jam
1/2 c water (optional – use only enough to help you pour the sauce)
Mix together well.
Put baked meatballs into a deep dish, cover with sauce. Bake @350 degrees for 40-45 minutes; until nicely glazed. Extra baked meatballs (but pre-sauce) can be put in bags in the freezer.
This recipe makes great burgers, too. Just make patties and either fry or bake.