Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Experiments in Meatless Eating

My new commitment to being a vegetarian has led me to explore various meatless recipes. I've never had a problem cooking without meat--I actually think it's pretty easy--but lately I've wanted to experiment with homemade meat substitutes.

I'm not fond of the idea of fake meat products. Most of them seem little better than processed junk food; they are simply vegetarian and marginally healthier. The high level of processing makes them undesirable in my opinion--the general idea being that foods with fewer ingredients are better, and one of the easiest ways to make sure something has few ingredients is to make it myself. My favorite vegetarian meatless products tend to be ones that don't have aspirations to be like meat, but are instead like the Gardenburger veggie patties: stuffed full of vegetables, mushrooms, rice, oats, and a little cheese.

This recipe for meatless BBQ balls popped up on Have Cake, Will Travel, a great little vegan cooking blog. Tonight, I came home feeling a little sick and a little tired, so I decided to try them out*.

I didn't have garlic powder or onion powder or panko bread crumbs, so I made some simple substitutions, and I think they worked pretty well. They don't taste like meat--which I didn't really want them to--but they are savory and rich and would make a good "meat" part of a meal (served with grains or on a sandwich). I used Ginger People Ginger Jerk Marinade instead of regular barbecue sauce, and I liked the flavor.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

Meatless BBQ Balls
adapted from Have Cake, Will Travel
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 medium onion, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs--I toasted some stale wheat bread and whirred it in the food processor until crumby
  • about 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (or other sauce/marinade)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep a baking sheet by placing a length of parchment paper. Mix all ingredients in a bowl--the mixture will be very thick. Shape into balls (I made about 9, using a small cookie scoop) and place in the center of the parchment.

Fold edges of parchment to seal the balls, and flip packet so that the seam side is down. (Don't do what I did, which is flip it quickly and make the balls roll all around in the packet. Let me know if you find a better technique.) Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown--you should be able to see through the parchment. Unwrap and coat in sauce and allow to bake uncovered for 8 minutes. Slather the sauce on if you think it needs more after you bake it a bit longer--I did, and let it bake another minute or two, and it was good. Serve on a sandwich or with some veggies and pasta.

*I often cook when I don't feel well. It distracts me and occupies my mind in healthy ways.

1 comment:

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