Black Bean and Tofu Meatballs are moist, flavourful, and completely vegetarian! Seasoned with familiar herbs and spices, and tossed in the sauce of your choice, these meatballs aim to please, and they do just that!
I love a good meatball, I really do. And I don’t get to prepare meatballs at home as much as I’d like to, because I prefer meatballs with ground beef or ground pork, while, John.e, of course, prefers a vegetarian version.
His cravings for spaghetti and meatballs were easily satisfied until about a year ago when Schneider’s stopped manufacturing vegetarian meatballs, or our local grocery stores stopped stocking them – I’m not sure which is the reason.
Meatballs have always been a staple mealtime favourite when I was growing up. My mom used to make several versions. One was the traditional ground beef, bread crumb, Italian seasoning type which paired well with spaghetti or other pasta dishes.
She also prepared a sweet and sour version which had ground beef and rice, and it was great served with homemade French fries. I remember there was always an abundance of sauce too! My God, I loved that sweet and sour sauce!
My ex wife used to make great meatballs as well, so as you can see, they were always a regular part of our at-home cuisine.
The vegetarian meatballs that we used to purchase pre-made, were actually really good. They had a great consistency and a great flavour, but since we can no longer find them, I needed to come up with a recipe that would meet John.e’s dietary restrictions and, of course, needed to taste like an actual meatball.
This recipe met the vegetarian’s standards and met my particular tastes perfectly. The great part about this recipe is that the yield was quite large. I made 75 meatballs from this recipe. Don’t worry, they can be fully prepared and frozen, or you can do like I did and pair them with two different sauces so that we didn’t feel like we were eating meatballs for an eternity.
You will need to deep fry these meatballs first before placing them in the oven to bake in whichever sauce you choose. The deep frying creates a slight crust on the meatball and helps it to lock in the moisture and keep a perfectly round shape. If you prefer not to bake them in a sauce, you can certainly add them right into a pasta dish straight from the deep fryer.
UPDATE: Fast forward exactly 3 years from the date this meatball recipe was originally published. It’s just coincidence, I know, but I find it a little strange that I decided to update the photos in this post exactly three years to the day that the original recipe was posted.
It wasn’t all my own doing. I’ve had a few readers sending me messages telling me that when they tried this recipe at home, it didn’t work out the way they were supposed to. So, Dear Reader, today I am officially updating this recipe and clarifying the instructions, as well as including new updated photos, and a few “this is what this should look like” photos at the end of this post just to help you along.
I think the number one reason why this dish didn’t work for some of you is the consistency of the meatball mixture. The black beans, tofu, carrots, and onions must be pureed quite well. Please refer to the photos after the recipe to see what these pureed ingredients should look like.
Lastly, please note that for a lighter, less dense meatball, I have used two types of breadcrumbs. The two cups of breadcrumbs that go into the mixture are one cup of panko crumbs and one cup of fine breadcrumbs. You can use one or the other or a combination like I did. I’ve made this recipe a million times and every time I use two types of breadcrumbs, the texture of the cooked meatball is always better.
- 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed dry and crumbled (350 grams)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (19 ounces)
- 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups breadcrumbs (refer to post for fine breadcrumbs versus panko)
- 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Parsley for garnish, optional
- In a food processor, puree the tofu and scoop into a large mixing bowl.
- Puree the onion and carrot and transfer to the mixing bowl with the tofu.
- Puree the black beans and transfer to the mixing bowl with the tofu, carrots, and onion.
- Add two cups of the breadcrumbs to the mixing bowl along with the mustard, ketchup, oregano, basil, eggs, ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, and paprika.
- Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together until a stiff mixture has formed.
- While heating the oil to 350 degrees, use a small scoop (about two teaspoons) to portion the meatballs equally. Roll the mixture in your hands to form and ball and then roll into the breadcrumbs.
- Set aside the meatballs until oil is fully heated.
- Add the meatballs to the oil a few at a time; allow the meatballs to cook until they turn a deep brown colour - about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oil and place in a baking dish. Pour your favourite sauce over the meatballs and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Garnish and serve immediately.
- Once you remove the meatballs from the oil, drain on paper towel and allow to completely cool if you plan to freeze them. Freeze in a single layer to avoid sticking.
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