Tofu Meatballs

I love a challenge. Give me a recipe idea or something you've been nervous to try and I will gladly take it on.  Recently, I saw the menu for the Wynn Las Vegas, and there were some new vegan choices that Chef Tal Ronnen worked with the hotel to create.  I decided to test a few out in my own style, since it had been a while since my last vegan experience (and after all, my Gluten Free and Vegan Snickerdoodles were so good!).  There was quite a selection to choose from, and meatballs really stuck out to me.  I saw an opportunity to take a recipe that used a store-bought meat alternative and use tofu instead--a true challenge for someone fairly new to tofu!


I grabbed some tofu at the grocery - though I have seen it in shelf stable form previously, this time I could only find it in the produce section.  I went with the firm variety as opposed to silken in the hopes it would hold together well.


In a medium bowl, I added some finely chopped onion and the drained tofu.


I crumbled the tofu with my fingers, crushing it into smaller bits.


Several years ago, I tried a few vegan recipes out.  Since then, I got into the habit of sticking with my basic choices of beef and chicken, however I did vaguely recall a meat-like recipe that used tofu adding in tamari. So, I used some in this to try and add some meaty flavor.  I also mixed in bread crumbs, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, pepper, salt, mint, oregano, and chili powder.  The mint concept came from a meatball recipe I tried recently that I'll be sharing soon - it adds a really nice flavor.  I added the tomatoes in because I've used tomato sauce inside my meatballs previously, but only had a jar of home-grown crushed tomatoes available.  I can't complain about that swap.


I formed the tofu mixture into balls and set them on a plate while I got the pan ready.


I used a large skillet coated with some olive oil to sear the tofu balls.  They held together fairly well but required a gentle touch when turning. When I make meatballs, I like to sear all sides so they hold together nicely.


And below, the finished "meat"-balls on some homemade spelt flour pasta (recipe soon!).  They looked yummy!


They came out quite nice looking, and I felt good about what was inside them!  I made a homemade sauce to go with it, and was pleased at how they came out. In my opinion, they gave the sauce and pasta a nice, chunky texture.  While tofu just doesn't have the same flavor as meat without some kind of meat product (broth or stock for example), the tofu balls had a great texture.  I will surely make these again and maybe add some portobello mushrooms!

Tofu Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients:

1 package tofu (14 ounces)
3 tablespoons tamari
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mint
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions:

Crumble tofu and combine with tamari, bread crumbs, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, pepper, salt, mint, oregano, and chili powder in a medium bowl.  Form into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and cook for 5-7 minutes in a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

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