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 been a staple part of mealtime while 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 premade, 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 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.
- 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed dry and crumbled
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups panko crumbs
- 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Oil for frying
- In a food processor, pulse the tofu until small crumbs are formed; remove to large mixing bowl
- Add the onion and carrot to the food processor; pulse until chopped into small pieces; do not puree; remove and add the same bowl as the tofu
- Add the black beans to the food processor and puree; add to tofu and vegetable mixture
- Add all of the other ingredients (except the panko crumbs) and using your hands, mix together until all ingredients are well incorporated
- While heating the oil, use a small ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs equally
- Roll the tofu mixture in your hands to form and ball and then roll into the panko crumbs
- Set aside the meatballs until oil is fully heated - follow the instructions of your deep fryer for optimum frying temperature
- Add the meatballs to the oil a few at a time; allow the meatballs to cook until they turn a deep brown colour
- 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