Monday, March 11, 2013

Meatless March Day #6: Spaghetti & Quinoa Mushroom Balls

Saturday for breakfast we had Shakeology and we had company visiting for lunch, so I baked 2 loaves of bread and gave a choice of natural PB& fruit spread or turkey and cheese (a chance for us to get rid of the temptations that were still lying in the fridge :) ).  I also made a large spinach salad and fruit, which is what Nate and I ate.  Snacks are requiring a little more time and creativity than before, but we will get there.  It is snack time that has created the moments of "there is nothing that I can eat here, maybe I will go out in the yard and chew on some sticks!" So...just having to do a little more planning so my darling husband has something other than sticks to chew on when he needs a snack! :)

Although it does take some time and prep work, it is a good make ahead dish too. I recommend doubling the sauce and meatless ball recipe so you can get more than one meal out of your work.  Just freeze half or stick it in the fridge for next time. Leave the meatless balls separate from the sauce until you get ready to serve.  We had a bunch of family here this weekend and so Friday night I made 70 of the balls and put them in the fridge. I was hoping for some left over to eat for a meal next week, but apparently they liked our meatless food pretty good because they all got eaten! :)  The sauce, I like to make huge batches of and freeze, so I will have some whenever I need it, but you can actually get some pretty good organic jar sauce if you look for it and be sure to read the ingredient list.  Then just add some frozen spinach and maybe chopped mushrooms or onion to it to jazz it up.

vegan spaghetti and meatballs

Ingredients for Sauce:
4-5 large tomatoes, largely cut & most (good to leave some) of the seed removed
fresh herbs, I use basil, sage, & oregano
3 oz. tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste, I use about 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Directions for Sauce:
In your food processor add, tomatoes, herbs, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar. Run food processor until desired smoothness is reached.
Pour olive oil in a large skillet on med-low heat. Once oil warms and starts to shine, add onion and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until fragrant and the onion is tender. 
Add tomato mixture form the food processor to the garlic and onions in the pan. Stir and let simmer on med-low to low heat until it is time to eat dinner. The longer it simmers the better it taste, but I have served it after only 15-20 minutes and it was still really good.

Ingredients for Meatless Balls:
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
8-12 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped-I put in my mini food processor to save time!
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (can use flax seed egg as a substitute here for vegan)
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup  nutritional yeast
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish

Directions for Meatless balls:
Cook the Quinoa with the water according to package directions.
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and coat with the oil. When oil shimmers, add the onion, salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and scrape into the quinoa. Set aside to cool, at least 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, and parsley and mix thoroughly. Dampen hands with water and then measure out 1 tablespoon portions and roll into 30 to 32 (1-inch) “meatballs”.  If you have a cookie spoon, that works great to keep you hands from getting messy! Just dampen it every couple scoops.
Arrange “meatballs” on a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with oil, and bake at 350 until warmed through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

I usually eat zucchini noodles without the regular noodles but I do mix them together for the rest of the family. To make the zucchini noodles, I shred the zucchini lengthwise with a vegetable shredder or cheese grater. Then put them in a pan with a little bit of water and put the lid on. Remember, they will cook down too, so cook at least 2. Cook with medium heat for a few minutes until they become translucent and they are done!  Of course if you use regular noodles too, be sure they are 100% whole wheat!



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