These are by far the best “meat free – meatballs” I have ever made, they might even made my Italian grandma proud! The consistency is really similar to regular meatballs, thanks to the combination between the cooked brown rice and mushrooms. To add that lovely cheesy flavour I have used nutritional yeast which works perfectly in this recipe. I love serving them with a very simple homemade sauce and my favourite brown rice pasta. To add extra flavour sprinkle some vegan cheese and fresh chopped basil on top.
Italian Nonna “Meatballs”
- 100 gr of ground almonds
- 150 gr of cooked brown rice
- 5 chestnut mushrooms washed
- 1 small carrot washed and peeled
- ½ small onion (I have used red) peeled
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 tablespoons of tamari sauce
- 1 heaped tablespoon of runny tahini
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- A generous handful of fresh herbs finely chopped – I have used a mix of basil, oregano and thyme
- 1 tablespoon of dried herbs de Provence
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt – use more if you like it more salty
Place the mushroom, carrot, garlic and onion into the Ninja Food processor. Pulse for few seconds until you have a crumbly mixture. Don’t over process it as you don’t want to end up with a puree!
Heat up 1 teaspoon of oil in pan, add the mushroom mixture and cook it a medium heat stirring from time to time for about 6-8 minutes until the onion has soften and all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.
In a bowl mix together the ground almond, brown rice, nutritional yeast, dried & fresh herbs, salt and black pepper. Add the tamari sauce, tahini and the cooked mushroom mixture. Stir everything together until you should have a quite dense dough. If the mixture is too dry add a splash of water. If it’s too wet add more ground almond or breadcrumbs.
With your hands scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into small balls. Coat them with the breadcrumbs or ground almond.
To cook the “meatballs” you can either cook on a frying pan for a couple of minutes each sides or you can bake them in oven (like I did) for 20 minutes. Just make sure you bake them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper otherwise they will stick to the bottom.
Once they are cooked let them cooled down. They hold the shape so much better if eaten the next day after being refrigerated overnight. I love having them with a simple tomato sauce and brown rice spaghetti but they are also great in salads, wraps or sandwiches.