Meatless Monday. You have no idea what’s coming for you.
Whether you partake in this weekly event to save the environment, save the animals, or just reduce your intake of meat, I can see no harm in the collaborative effort to eat more vegetables (and I’m not talking about french fries and ketchup). I am completely intrigued with the idea of taking traditional meat dishes and creating a plant-based alternative that can be enjoyed by both herbivores and omnivores alike. By keeping in mind the basic characteristics of those meat-based foods (i.e. smokiness and umami flavors), you can really get creative with a whole plethora of ingredients and expand your Meatless Monday beyond salads and pastas.
However, as important as it is to mimic flavors and textures, I believe nutrient content of these recipes must be equally considered. Often you find vegetarian options are full of strange binders and additives that defeat the whole purpose of consuming VEGGIE-tarian foods. It also communicates a false message to skeptics that adequate protein can only be provided through an animal-based diet. Well, with this recipe I hope to do a little enlightening by showcasing the incredible potential of the produce aisle.
These veggie meatballs are wonderfully savory if not “meaty” and jam packed with high quality plant-based proteins and dietary fiber. They are also grain free and can easily be vegan through the use of a flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal + 2.5 Tbsp water). I served them up on a bed of cauliflower turmeric rice and mint yogurt sauce but you can also divide these into individual sides served with other foods of your choice. The meatballs could go lovely in a pasta noodle dish with marinara or the yogurt sauce with a tray of carrots, cucumbers, or pita bread for dipping and dunking.
Sun dried Tomato and Mushroom Meatballs with Turmeric Cauliflower Rice
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 egg or flax egg
- 1/2 Tbsp garam masala
- 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Turmeric Cauliflower Rice
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp za’atar
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
Mint Yogurt Sauce
- ½ cup low fat yogurt
- 1/4 cup mint eaves
- 2 garlic clove
- 1 lemon
- Cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly greased, and set aside.
- Pulse chickpeas in food processor until roughly chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat this step with the tomatoes, mushrooms, and cilantro individually. NOTE: Processing each food item separately gives you greater freedom and textural variety when working with the ingredients. If you food process everything at once, you may find that one ingredient is practically pureed while another is may still be barely chopped.
- Place the the garlic, onions, and all seasoning and spices in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the large mixing bowl and mix all ingredients until uniform.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg and add to the meatball mixture a little at a time until batter is sticky but still dry enough to roll into a ball.
- Roll batter into 2-inch balls. Place balls on prepped baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly golden.
- Meanwhile, grate cauliflower using the coarsest side to create a rice-like texture.
- Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Transfer the cauliflower rice to the pan. Add za’atar, turmeric, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté until well combined and the cauliflower is well coated. Cover with lid and let cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Mix in pine nuts and raisins and remove from heat.
- To create the sauce, rinse out the food processor and add all sauce ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Serve meatballs warm over cauliflower rice drizzled with yogurt mint sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.