Growing up, meatballs & “sketti” (aka spaghetti) was one of TWO meals I would eat at my grandmas house. Now, don’t be mistaken…my Mommoy (as we call her) is an EXCELLENT cook…I was just the pickiest child eater! Even throughout college, that was the meal I would look forward to most when I was home on vacations….
Well, now I’m a vegetarian….
And Mommoy (below) is NOT happy because she never knows what to cook for me! But she does cut out every. single. vegetarian. recipe. she reads in the paper! Plus, she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders — thank you!!!
So on a snowy NYC day, I decided to whip up a vegetarian version of this ultimate comfort food. Now I’m not saying carnivores will think these taste like meat, because they don’t….I repeat, THEY DO NOT TASTE LIKE MEAT…but they’re SO tasty! NEVERTHELESS, this recipe is a great alternative if you’re trying to cut down your meat consumption. Bold flavors, like sun dried tomatoes and garlic, play stand-out roles in this recipe, so your palate will be satisfied and you’ll be fueling your body will wholesome and nutritious food!
Here are some health benefits in this perfect #MeatlessMonday (or ANY-day dish):
- Fiber-licious beans are the base of these balls. Low on the glycemic index scale, beans will not spike your blood sugar like some other carbohydrates and will provide lasting energy for hours.
- Quinoa and oats are gluten-free carbs used, instead of breadcrumbs, that bulk up (with complex carbs + protein) and help bind your mock-balls together.
- Bone-strong calcium. Parmesan cheese is high in calcium, and because of it’s bold flavor, a little goes a long way, which means you’ll consume minimal calories while keeping your taste buds happy.
- Low-fat flavor. Swapping beans & veggies for meat lowers the fat content like crazy in this comforting meal!
- 1 (15oz) can cannelloni beans
- ¼ cup quick oats
- ¼ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup white onion, finely minced (approximately ½ of a small onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh sun dried tomatoes, chopped (not those in oil!!)
- 2 ½ cups fresh spinach, wilted (stovetop or in microwave) & chopped (If using frozen, approximately ⅓ cup with water squeezed out)
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning
- Dash paprika
- ¼ tsp oregano
- Optional: Dash cayenne pepper
- Nonstick olive oil spray
**Vegan substitutions: Sub 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water, mixed, for egg & eliminate cheese (sub nutritional yeast if you’d like!).
- Mash beans with a fork or potato masher. (Note: You could pulse in food processor until chunky, not pureed, but it is not necessary to dirty a processor for this.)
- Add all other ingredients, except for the egg and nonstick spray and mix until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Then add egg and mix to evenly distribute
- Refrigerate mixture for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil (for easy clean up), and coat well with nonstick spray. Roll batter into 1-1½ inch balls, spaced evenly on cookie sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and flip over, then cook for another 10 minutes. MockBalls should be lightly browned when finished.
Makes 14 decent-sized balls. Serving: 3 balls/person
Nutrition Stats (per serving):
- Calories: 161
- Fat: 2.6g
- Carbs: 24g
- Fiber: 9g
- Protein: 11g
Round out this #MeatlessMonday meal with ½ cup tomato sauce & ½ cup serving of whole grain pasta (or sub zucchini linguine or spaghetti squash for low-carb options!) with extra spinach cooked in! This will add about 80 calories (for the sauce) & 100 calories for the pasta…just watch your portions people! *Bonus tip*: For extra sun dried tomato flavor, add a small handful into your pasta water while it cooks!