I love, love, love meatballs and recently they have burst onto the food scene in restaurants around the country with menus based solely on them and them alone. Who would have thought a simple round ball made of ground meat from beef, pork and veal to turkey and chicken mixed with herbs, cheeses and some bread with egg to bind it all together then fried or baked would cause such a sensation! This peasant food has been elevated to gourmet status. But if you are a vegetarian or have vegetarian friends, then you know they have been left out of the meatball experience. Well, now they can have a Veggie “Meatball” and chow down with the best of them. You can make a wicked good sandwich or serve them up with a plate of your favorite pasta and red sauce (called gravy if you are Italian) topped with some melted Provolone or Mozzarella or a grating of Parmesan or my personal favorite, Locatelli Romano (our family calls it Italian sugar).
These meatless meatballs use two high antioxidant veggies, broccoli and cauliflower mixed with an interesting combo of chickpeas, toasted pignoli nuts, raisins, grated Parmesan cheese, and garlic all bound together with eggs and bread crumbs. Altogether, they transform this mixture into a one of the most yummy “meatballs” I have ever eaten, and I have eaten quite a few meatballs in my day! This recipe comes from the Marabella Meatball Co. in Philadelphia with a few minor changes that I found made the meatballs hold together better for me. This recipe may make even hardcore carnivores convert! My son and husband liked them on a good crusty Italian long roll with red sauce, melted Mozzarella and grated Locatelli. I made them close their eyes and take a bite, and they said they couldn’t tell it was a vegetable “meatball”, only that it had a delicious taste and they then proceeded to scarf it down! A sneaky way to get them to eat more veggies. Hey, whatever works right?! These would make great hors d’oeuvres too!
1 head of broccoli flowers, cooked, cooled and rough chopped.
1/4 head of caulflower tops, cooked, cooled and rough chopped.
1/8th cup of chickpeas.
1 1/2 tbsp. of toasted pine nuts, chopped (pignoli)
2 tbsp. chopped raisins.
1 tbsp. chopped parsley.
1 tsp. minced garlic.
1/2 cup bread crumbs.
1/4 cup grated cheese, Parmesan or Locatelli Romano.
1 raw egg.
1 tsp. salt and pepper.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Steam broccoli and cauliflower together, cool and then rough chop. Add all the remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to help form balls making sure to press firmly. Olive oil a baking pan and place balls spaced as you would for regular meatballs. Spray tops of veggie balls with a little more olive oil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes depending on your oven till lightly browned. Serve with sauce and cheese of your liking. A creamy Alfredo sauce would work also. Veg out!
Michele Errichetti is from South Jersey born and fed. She comes from an Italian family where they eat, live, and breathe FOOD. Michele was cooking and eating under her grandmom’s feet every Sunday for “gravy” and at home with her mother (a Medigan or American) during the week. Nowadays, she cooks for her two sons, husband, and father most days of the week. She takes “Girl Road Trips” with her friends at least once a month that always culminate with you guessed it, FOOD. She hopes fresh, local, organic, and free range will become the norm. Michele is searching Atlantic County for everything that has anything to do with good food and she’s taking you along for the ride.