Veggie Balls: A Super Satisfying, Nutrient-Dense Alternative to Meatballs!
Veggie burgers are fairly ubiquitous these days, but they can be challenging to make at home. They tend to fall apart either during preparation or cooking, and the resulting frustration can be enough to make anyone never want to cook them again. Veggie balls, however, essentially smaller, near-bite size veggie burgers, are easier to prepare, store, and portion out (especially for children!). They’re more versatile too, serving as a perfect topping for salads or macro bowls, a great filling for tacos or wraps, or an awesome snack all on their own with a side of hummus or salsa. Keep a batch on hand in the freezer for a quick week night meal (or an easy meat replacement if you avoid meat and the rest of your family is eating it for a meal). They’re similar in appearance and taste to falafel, but since they’re baked instead of fried, they’re better for you.
How to Add Vegan Meals to Your Diet
If you’re curious about learning how to add more plant-based (or vegan) meals to your diet, but you’re unsure of where to start, this recipe offers a great launching point. Figuring out main dishes for meals is often the most challenging part of a plant-based diet, so this veggie ball recipe will get that road block out of the way for you. Pair with any sides you’d serve with meat – mashed or roasted potatoes, veggies of any kind, rice or quinoa, crudités and fruit – or wrap them up in a pita, wrap, or tortilla and add any toppings that sound good. They’re easy to add to a salad for a packed lunch, or pop a few into a bento box with sides like nuts, fruit, a dipping sauce, and crackers for an easy and kid-friendly on-the-go meal.
Vegan Curry Veggie Balls (Makes 22 veggie balls)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (coconut oil or olive oil work too)
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
2 rainbow chard leaves, stemmed and chopped thinly
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup oats
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or lemon pepper if you have it)
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
1 drop lemon essential oil (optional)
½ cup frozen corn kernels
½ cup frozen peas
- Preheat oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with coconut oil cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat grapeseed oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and rainbow chard and sauté until tender and lightly browned.
- While veggies are sautéing, use a high speed blender or food processor to combine chickpeas, oats, and seasonings. The mixture should be slightly dry but should hold together well – if it seems too dry, try blending it longer (before resorting to adding water). Add sautéed veggies to blender and pulse until just combined – there will still be small chunks of veggie in the mixture.
- Stir corn and peas into chickpea mixture.
- Using a 1-tablespoon size cookie scoop or portion scoop, form balls from the mixture and place them on the prepared pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until firm and browned on the outside.
- Change out the veggies according to your preference. Any color of bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, or celery would all work instead of the red bell pepper and onion. Replace the chard with spinach or kale if you like.
- If you’re not a fan of curry powder, skip it and add another seasoning you do like (Italian seasoning or an all-purpose seasoning blend like Mrs. Dash or Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute would be great).
- These balls freeze well. Once completely cool, freeze uncovered on their baking sheet. When they’re completely frozen, transfer the balls to an airtight plastic bag and store in the freezer for up to two months. Reheat in the oven, in a frying pan with a lid, or in the microwave.
- Go the extra mile and make your own tahini dipping sauce to serve with these veggie balls. Just combine equal parts tahini (or sesame seed paste) and water and season to taste with salt, pepper, grated fresh garlic or garlic powder, lemon juice, and fresh or dried parsley. The sauce will keep for up to a week in the fridge and it’s great with just about everything. Guacamole or store-bought hummus also make awesome dipping sauces for this recipe.
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