Plant-based Italian meatballs without the meat (yum!)

Sep 19, 2022

 by Marilyn Hoyt

I’ve got a quick & easy plant-based “meat” ball recipe for you today.

One thing I love about this recipe (besides the taste) is that you can change it up with different spices, grains, and/or beans … and you can also form it into burgers.

Try barley or brown rice … pinto beans or chickpeas … taco seasoning or curry. SO DELICIOUS!

Vegan “meat” balls

(Makes about 10 “meat” balls)

  • 1 15-oz (425 g) can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, separated
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic,  minced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional) 
  • 1 cup (185 g) cooked & cooled quinoa (tip: ⅓ cup (55 g) dry quinoa = 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos

Preheat your oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Dry off the black beans using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Place the beans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the beans feel dry to the touch. Remove the beans from the oven and raise the oven heat to 375ºF/190ºC.

While the beans are baking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic. Continue to saute until the onions are softened, and then remove the skillet from the heat.

In your food processor, pulse together the beans, sauteed onions & garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, and optional red pepper flakes. When it reaches a loose mealy texture, add the quinoa, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and coconut aminos. Pulse until it barely forms a wet “meaty” dough (not a puree).

Taste and adjust seasonings. If you prefer a cheesier taste, add more nutritional yeast.

Scoop out 2 Tbsp at a time, forming into balls. Place on a parchment-lined plate and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and when it’s hot, add the “meat” balls. Saute, turning occasionally, until each ball forms a crust around the outside. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs turn golden brown.

They are ready to serve as-is, or you can simmer them in your favorite marinara sauce for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve these with your favorite pasta or zoodles, as a hearty sandwich filling, or as a side dish with veggies.