Updated: Feb 23
Spaghetti and meatballs have always been a favorite. So, many years ago, when I mostly gave up meat, I was glad to find a recipe for walnut "meatballs" in tomato sauce. And although they do not taste meaty, they are fluffy, flavorful, and filled with nutty goodness.
Last year, the N.Y. Times published a recipe for vegetarian Swedish "meatballs". Made from chickpeas, they come accompanied with a terrific sour cream gravy that tastes just right when served over garlic mashed potatoes.
The third “meatball” is one I concocted. It is inspired by those sweet and sour cocktail meatballs that were ubiquitous at parties at one point. I knew I wanted mine to be vegetarian, grain-based, and baked. I decided to experiment with farro, a chewy, nutty grain that I’ve grown fond of lately. For the sweetness, I used hoisin sauce. That was counterbalanced by tamari sauce. The result was a “meatball” that is sweet and salty and tangy, enhanced by tastes and textures of the vegetables I used - shallots, shiitakes, carrots and garlic.
WALNUT “MEATBALLS” IN TOMATO SAUCE
For the meatballs:
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 small to medium onion
2 TBS. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash ground black pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 TBS. canola oil
Place walnuts, garlic, onion, and parsley in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove to a bowl. Add salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Mix well and shape into balls - I like them about 1 and 1/4” in diameter.
Sauté in canola oil until browned on all sides.
For the sauce:
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
Dash garlic salt
Dash celery salt
Salt to taste
Combine all in a saucepan. Add meatballs. Simmer over very low flame for 1 and 1/2 hours. Serve over pasta.
The recipe for VEGETARIAN SWEDISH MEATBALLS can be accessed here:
BILLA’S ASIAN FARRO “MEATBALLS”
1 TBS olive oil
6 shiitake mushroom caps (or 4 white or cremini mushrooms) chopped
1 small shallot, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup cooked farro
4 TBS. panko
1/2 TBS hoisin sauce
2 tsp. tamari sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallot, carrot, and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 6 minutes.
Remove vegetables to the bowl of a food processor. Add cooked farro and panko. Process until all is very finely chopped but not pureed.
Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add hoisin and tamari sauces, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Shape into 1” balls. Place on parchment-covered sheet pan.
Bake for 20 minutes, turning after 10.
Yield: 10 meatballs