Steps to make vegetarian meatballs, Mediterranean inspired

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Enjoying vegetarian “meatballs” is a thing! Bloggers and food writers are getting creative, rolling up savory little bites filled with beans, lentils, whole grains, and vegetables as an addictive alternative to meat-based balls. These little treats are delicious as an appetizer at a party, served with pasta and a sauce, or showcased as the main event at your next meal.

For this recipe, I found my inspiration in the Greek culinary tradition of keftedes—fried meatballs often served with French fries and a salad or as part of a meze (appetizer) platter. I skipped the meat and replaced it with hearty black-eyed peas (I had the most amazing black-eyed pea dish in Greece which inspired this idea!), along with nut meal, flax seeds, and red onions.

The tastes of the Mediterranean are highlighted in this dish with dates, sun-dried tomatoes, and Greek herbs. I paired it with a bright lemony tahini dip.

Large, succulent Medjool dates provide a sweet touch to this savory veggie balls.

Here’s the link to the full recipe: Greek Veggie Balls with Tahini Lemon Sauce.

Black-eyed peas are rich in protein and fiber, making an excellent protein alternative. Plus, the flax seeds and nut meal (also called nut flour) provide an extra dose of fiber and protein, along with healthy fats. This is the perfect way to do Meatless Monday, or fit in more plant-based meals during the week.

Serve these veggie balls at your holiday table or party for a meatless alternative, or for a simple, rustic meal served with roasted potato wedges and a crisp salad. The veggie balls are also excellent heated up over the next few days. You can even make a big batch and freeze extras for easy meals on busy nights.

Step 1  – Mash the black-eyed peas with a potato masher until they are smooth with some remaining chunks.

Step 2 – Combine all of the ingredients to make a slightly moistened mixture before refrigerating it for 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Roll golf-size veggie balls using your hands.

Step 4- Cook the veggie balls in a small amount of olive oil, turning to brown on all sides.

Step 5- Serve these veggie balls with a Tahini Lemon Sauce. 

Enjoy.

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Author: Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™, is an award-winning food and nutrition expert, journalist, and editor. She is author of The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Health, Beginning Today (The Experiment, 2012) and Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps & 125 Delicious Recipes (The Experiment, 2014). Sharon also is editor of Environmental Nutrition, nutrition editor of Today’s Dietitian, blogger for The Plant-Powered Blog, and publisher of her monthly The Plant-Powered Newsletter. Living in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles with her husband and two sons, Sharon enjoys visiting her local farmers market, gardening, and cooking for friends and family.

5 thoughts on “Steps to make vegetarian meatballs, Mediterranean inspired”

  1. Sharon, meatless meat balls sound wonderful.how ever recipe is not clear. After mashing black eyed peas, ” mix with ingredients” what are they and how much?
    Please post complete recipe?
    Thanks,
    Mohini

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Thanks for sharing the blog to help with the confusion of added sugars vs. naturally occurring sugars. The new food labels will be so helpful to help with the confusion. It is important to know that fruits are part of a healthy diet. Most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of “added” sugars and syrups a day. (JAMA) Women are recommended to have 6 and men 9 or less per day. This can explain the increases of cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes and should not be confused with natural occurring sugars. Thank you.

  3. Sharon, thanks for the reply. I read the article and it makes some good points. It also admits that sugar feeds cancer cells as well as other cells. Yes, we do need some glucose, but not much and certainly not in concentrated forms. Even though dates are a natural source of sugar, they are very concentrated, and sugar is sugar no matter what the source. Five Medjool dates, as in this recipe, have 73 grams of sugar. All dried fruits are concentrated and get into the bloodstream very fast. Yes, some fruits, such as fresh apples and berries, can be protective. But not added sugars or concentrated sources of natural sugars. I agree with the majority who say that cancer patients should avoid sugars. The more sugars one consumes, the more food they are giving their cancer to grow on. I still say that this recipe, along with some others on this website, should be avoided by those fighting cancer.

  4. Can the dates be omitted with success? Dates are very high in sugar, and cancer patients should not be eating sugar. This is not a cancer-friendly recipe, as I’ve also seen in other recipes that you say are okay for cancer but are not. Readers beware, go elsewhere for truly cancer-okay recipes.

    1. Hi,
      You can omit the dates in this recipe and it will be fine. However, please note that there is a lot of hype on sugar causing cancer. There is an excellent blog on AICR about this topic here: http://blog.aicr.org/2011/08/03/does-sugar-feed-tumors/ Currently, the recommendation is to keep added sugars under control to no more than 10% of calories. Dates are not a source of added sugars; they contain naturally occurring sugars, which are packaged with nutrients, such as fiber and phytochemicals. A moderate amount of fruits are completely healthful in a balanced, cancer-protective diet. Indeed, fruits may even be cancer-protective.
      Sharon Palmer, RDN

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