Baked Italian NeatBalls
Growing up with an Italian Grandmother, I have such fond memories of watching her cook up a storm in the kitchen. Although I personally stopped eating red meat at age 9, I still appreciated all of the hard work and love she put into preparing vast meals for the extended family. Meatballs for days, Braciola alla Marinara to feed an army and my personal favorite baked yams with toasted marshmallows on top (not exactly Italian, but who the hell cares!!) Anyway, I digress.
Meatballs are a staple in so many countries and while they actually take a decent amount of time to prepare, they're uncomplicated and please almost everybody. Plus you can make loads of them at a time and eat immedaitely, keep for leftovers or freeze with ease.
I'm stoked to have finally come up with a meat-free meatball, a foodball, if you will, that is delicious, nutritious and totally hits the spot.
Baked Italian Neatballs
1/4 cup VEG STOCK (or 1 tbsp olive oil)
2 Medium ZUCCHINI (chopped)
1 PEPPER (pick your favorite color and chop it!)
1 EGGPLANT (chopped)
1 cup ALMOND FLOUR (or oat flour)
1 cup GREAT NORTHERN BEANS (or cannellini or another soft white bean)
1/2 tsp GARLIC POWDER
1/2 tsp SEA SALT (optional)
A few shakes of OREGANO, ROSEMARY, BASIL or whatever herbs rock your world.
Preheat oven to 375℉ / 190℃ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the full temperature has been reached (see: water test), add the chopped Zucchini, Eggplant and Pepper and saute in veg stock for approximately 10 minutes. Cook until veggies are soft but not limp.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a food processor and add the almond flour, white beans, herbs, spices, and salt. Pulse until mostly smooth with a few visible chunks here and there. If the mixture is too dry, add a little stock (a teaspoon at a time). If the mixture is too wet, add more almond flour or a handful of dry oats to add more density.
Roll into 1-2 inch sized balls and place gently onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully flip. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until pretty firm. They will remain pretty moist on the inside by virtue of their ingredients.
Remove from oven and enjoy with a side of marinara sauce or however you like to eat meatballs!
Leftovers? Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for longer.
Goes great with... Simply dipped into warmed up marinara, added to pasta dishes, topped on a salad, or added to lunchboxes with cold marinara dip or my favorite, oil-free hummus!
Too Dry? These should remain pretty moist inside but if the ball is small, definitely keep an eye on the cooking time as they can darken up pretty quickly.
Need more salt? Add more salt!
Like spice? Add some heat to whatever your sauce or dip is - leaving them spice free for all to enjoy!