In our house, we like vegetables. That’s no secret. I like making vegetarian meals. The Fellow™ enjoys them as well, sometimes, and when he’s not crazy starving. I understand the notion – he says he doesn’t feel like he’s as full and satisfied when it’s a vegetarian meal versus something with meat. I feel the same way. 9 times out of 10, if I’ve cooked up something vegetarian, or even vegan, I’m definitely full when I’ve had my fair share, my I’m typically pretty hungry again not that long after. Which I don’t understand since protein and fiber are supposed to make you feel fuller, longer. When I eat something with meat – and what type of meat doesn’t matter – I feel like I’ve had a very complete meal that sticks with me longer, and I’m less likely to snack on stuff later on.
But I’m not here to dissect why it works that way for us, or for others if you’ve experienced it, too. I’m here to share with you a delightful vegetarian recipe that not only looks delicious, but tastes phenomenal.
A gal I’ve known for some time now (but had never met in person) was coming up to my place to hang out and have dinner and dessert. I had all sorts of ideas on what to do for dinner, but the minor hitch came when I asked her if she had dietary restrictions. “I’m a vegetarian, but otherwise, no.” Okay, I can totally work with this. But what should I choose to make? Do I take one of my favorite go-to meals and substitute more vegetables for meat? Do I go in search of a brand new recipe and hope it doesn’t totally suck, so as to make her think I don’t know what’s good? Do I just wing it and make something simple like salad?
Anyone can make salad, and my favorite go-to meals are things like sloppy joes from scratch, meaty soups where the meat makes the soup, Hungarian goulash that’s essentially just meat and potatoes, etc. Subbing in veggies in the meat’s place probably wouldn’t achieve what I was looking for. Anyone can make a salad, and again, I wanted something with some heft, because with my diet change, I don’t want to be snacking at 8pm
So I went looking. Went to the usual haunts in search of something truly vegetarian. One of the recipes that popped up was a creamy kale sauce to put over pasta. A simple ricotta, milk, and kale concoction that sounded easy to make and a nice substitution for an oily pesto or acidic tomato sauce. That was going on the list of things to make. But just straight noodles and a sauce would not do. If it was anyone else, I would have made my half turkey half spicy Italian sausage meatballs. Because my friend was not, I decided I needed to make some kind of vegetarian meatball. I’ve seen recipes for ones that look gods awful. They looked like they were still alive, and that you wouldn’t want to eat them.
One that I found was simply called “broccoli parmesan meatballs”. I investigated further into the recipe and was sold.
Super easy to whip up, using ingredients I already had in the house. The end result were amazing little green balls of veggies that were tender and moist, held their shape and didn’t fall apart when cut into, and had a wonderful density to them you’d find with a true meatball. Don’t skimp on the ingredients in this one. Every last bit of it matters!
source: adapted from Oh My Veggies [Broccoli Parmesan Meatballs]
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 large head broccoli, steamed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon sweet basil, finely shredded
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, coarse flakes, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
2. Steam broccoli. To do this, either use a steamer if one is available, in a pot with water. Bring about an inch of water to a boil and add broccoli florets. Cover and let steam for 4-6 minutes, until fork tender. Don’t let them turn to mush. Drain water from pan and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the raw almonds until it resembles a coarse meal. Some will turn into powder, which is okay, but the point is to have little chunks, not flour. Set chopped almonds aside in a medium sized bowl.
4. In the bowl of a food processor, add the steamed broccoli and pulse until chopped. Add to the bowl of almonds, and combine the rest of the ingredients except for the egg. Mix together.
5. Add in the lightly beaten egg and stir (or use your hand) to combine.
6. Spray a mini muffin tin with olive oil or a non-stick cooking spray.
7. Form the vegetable mix into 12 evenly sized balls, being sure to squeeze them together tightly. Squeeze excess liquid from the steamed broccoli if possible, otherwise they’ll be too slimy to stick together. Place each formed ball in a mini muffin cup.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown and they are warm all the way through.
These can be served immediately, or set aside in the fridge and re-heated in a dry skillet.