Meatless Mushroom Meatballs over Chickpea Pasta

When I was in college for my second degree in nutrition, an incident in my Anatomy & Physiology class really turned me off to meat for a while…a little over 4 years to be exact.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I started to eat meat again.  But when I was vegetarian, I relied a lot on soy products with little variety in my diet and it was then that I learned the importance of balance in the diet and how it’s never good to eat too much of a good thing-including the super healthy stuff.   These days, I have way more variety in my diet and eat chicken, turkey and fish but still like to prepare meatless dinners for my family at least 1-2 times per week with recipes that have a creative vegetarian twist on some common meat dishes like these MEATLESS MUSHROOM MEATBALLS!  Ahh these meatballs are so delicious, easy to make and gluten-free.  Perfect for getting little helpers involved, my kids love mixing the ingredients and making the balls and I don’t have to worry about them touching raw meat.  Recipe adapted from one that I found on allrecipes.com a few years ago and have been making ever since.  Thanks to mushrooms, these meatballs have a great texture and get beautifully browned.  I usually pair them with my fav Banza chickpea pasta which has 2x the protein and 4x the fiber of traditional pasta, making this dish nutritionally complete and satisfying! and serve with a side salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • dash of salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, packed
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 cups pasta sauce
  • olive oil cooking spray (for parchment paper)
  • **if you do not have a gluten intolerance, you can use whole wheat breadcrumbs and oats that do not specify “gluten-free” on the packaging.

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to the hot oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook and stir until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated. Stir butter into mushrooms, reduce heat to medium, and cook and stir mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir onion into mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir garlic into mushroom mixture until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix oats into mushroom mixture until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in parmesan cheese.  Add bread crumbs, parsley, and eggs.  Then add in a dash of salt, pepper and oregano.
  4. Mix together with a fork until crumbly. Mixture should hold together when pressed.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. For best flavor and texture, refrigerate overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  7. Form mixture into small meatballs using a 2-tablespoon scoop. Roll meatballs lightly between your hands until smooth, if desired; arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until meatballs are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once (turn very carefully as meatballs may stick a bit to parchment paper).
  9. Bring pasta sauce to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat to low. Gently stir meatballs into sauce until coated. Simmer meatballs in sauce for about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl over pasta of choice and enjoy.  

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