Beetballs: A Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Sausage Recipe

by on February 13, 2012
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Beetballs and Spaghetti

When I heard that a food blogging conference was taking place in the state just next door, I was intrigued. When I heard that friend, cookbook author, and fellow blogger Kathy Hester was going to be there, I said “Sign me up!” So a couple of weeks ago, I drove the four hours to Birmingham, Alabama, to attend Food Blog South‘s second annual conference. Though I don’t do blogging conferences very often, I’ve found that they’re a great way to recharge my batteries; having actual face-to-face conversations with people who share my enthusiasm for food, photography, and writing takes a lot of the isolation out of blogging. This particular conference left me super-charged because I was able to spend time not only with Kathy but also with two other vegan bloggers, Heather of Better With Veggies and Katie Cain of Bistro Katie. Dinner out with them at the vegan-friendly Bottletree Cafe was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Of course, the conference itself offered plenty of information and inspiration, but when you’re a food blogger, your main focus is on the food, and when you’re a vegan, that focus turns into concern, as in “Will there be anything for me to eat?” The answers in this case were “No, no, YES, and not really.” Neither the pre- and post-parties nor the breakfast offered much for a vegan to sink her teeth into other than pickled okra, but the lunch, provided by Shindigs Catering, featured a vegan, gluten-free main dish that turned out to be the second highlight of the conference: Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and vegetable-based orbs that all of us vegans began calling Beetballs after conversations with the very gracious chef revealed that the ingredients included beets, almonds, chickpeas, smoked mushrooms, and smoked onions. I was sure that one, if not all, of us would wind up trying to recreate Beetballs.

Beetball Pizza

Almond-Based Beetballs Crumbled on a Pita Pizza

Well, I may be the first, but I tested them enough for all four of us! In the course of a week, I made them four different ways, trying to get the consistency (firm yet crumbly when you cut into them) and the flavor (smoky yet not over-seasoned) just right. I didn’t have smoked onions or mushrooms, so I use dried porcini mushrooms for their deep, woodsy flavor and regular raw onions for all but one attempt, when I roasted the onions, beets, and garlic beforehand, making the texture very firm but not at all crumbly. After my first attempt, using pecans, I decided to try using almonds and going for a more sausage-like flavor with fennel seeds, sage, and red pepper flakes. And of course I had to try a lower-fat version using quinoa instead of the nuts. Every variation I tried produced balls that held their shapes and tasted slightly meaty, but in the end the ingredients and seasonings I liked best are reflected in the recipe below. I expected the almond version to come out the winner, but overall I found that the pecans produced not only the best flavor but also the best texture–fitting for a recipe that originated at a Southern bloggers’ conference.

So what did I do with four batches of Beetballs? You would think I’d have so many that I would need to freeze some of them, but they disappeared very quickly. Besides a couple of Beetball and Spaghetti dinners (tofu shirataki noodles for me), both D and I enjoyed Beetball Sandwiches (pickles and loads of hot sauce on mine), and twice I made Beet-zzas–both regular and pita pizzas with Beetballs and assorted veggies. I think Beetballs could be used in just about any dish that calls for a meat substitute, though I don’t recommend cooking them in sauce. Heat them separately in the oven or microwave and then gently add the sauce just before serving–or do as I did for spaghetti and beetballs and pour the sauce over the beetballs. Because they contain no gluten, corn starch, xanthan gum, or other “sticky” processed ingredients, they can’t take a lot of stirring or moisture without falling apart, so please handle your beetballs with care.

Spaghetti and Beetballs

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{ 131 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shirley February 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I wish I had an eat that now button. I am so going to make these this week.

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2 Kathy Hester February 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Those look amazing! I wish I lived closer so I could be one of your taste-testers ; )

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3 Dawn Meisch February 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Want some when I make a batch?

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4 Ann February 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

These look great. While I generally enjoy the commercial meat substitutes, they are typically so processed and contain so much fat that I usually only allow them about once a month. A friend is gifting me with her seldom-used food processor in a week or so, so I plan to try this when I receive it. :-) (Can hardly wait.)

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5 Ninufar February 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Agreed that this recipe is begging to be tried! FWIW, I have also started experimenting with the gluten-free seitan recipes from Jeanette at MeatAndEggFree, leaving out the oil and the nutritional yeast (something I like about twice a year).

These beet balls look much more suited for topping a pizza,though!

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6 KaleCrusaders February 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

An amazing compilation of ingredients! Can’t wait to cook these up.

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7 Withmyneedles February 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

These looks great, and, having grown up there, it is great to see Birmingham mentioned in a positive way!

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8 Dawn Meisch February 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Susan,

This recipe looks incredible. I’ve been missing vegan sausage since I had to go wheat-free recently. I will be making this very, very soon. Thanks so much.

DM

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9 Tobi Pawson February 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

These look amazing, and I will definitely be trying these out. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes and for sharing them with the rest of us!

**Oh, and I voted for ya!

Blessings,

Tobi Pawson ~La Pine Better Living Center

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10 Eva February 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

The texture on these looks great! I love homemade sausages/burgers/meatlessballs (you name it). Thanks for sharing

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11 Rachel February 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I loved those meatballs at the conference! I’ve been dreaming of making my own.

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12 Veronica February 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm

This looks like a neat recipe. I remember one time we had beet “sausage” at a place called Tzu Jan in Escazu, Costa Rica and it had this great flavour and chewy texture. I’m not much of a sausage person or fake meat fan at all really, but I’ll keep these in mind. Would you believe even as an omni I’ve never had spaghetti and meatballs? My family just cooked the ground beef into the sauce and did it quickly. So needless to say I’ve never had a gravy for spaghetti and meatballs. It looks like it would be good in a wrap or on pizza.

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13 Tash February 14, 2012 at 3:52 am

Ok this look sooooo appetising, unfortunately i don’t have all these ingredients and i don’t get paid to tomorrow but this is sooo tomorrows meal, trying to resist the urge to lick my computer screen lol.

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14 lisa February 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

a dream come true!
i’m so sick of processed fake meat products.
thank you thank you…

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15 Diana February 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

Wow, I am so glad you made it with quinoa! We are highly nut allergic here, and I was sad when I first started reading, because the recipe sounds so wonderful, but, alas, you took care of it! Thanks so much for giving the alternative!

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16 Shirley February 14, 2012 at 8:16 am

I wonder do you think canned beats would work? I have regular cubed canned beats in my pantry.

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17 Susan Voisin February 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

Shirley, they will probably work, but in my tests, using cooked beets changed the texture and the flavor. I really preferred them with raw beets.

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18 Shirley February 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

I’ll stick to the uncooked fresh then. Thanks for the advice.

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19 Rebekah October 11, 2012 at 1:30 am

I used canned for this recipe. The flavor turned out very strong and not much to my liking. I’m wondering now if this is what happened. I’ve never eaten beets so I couldn’t tell if I was tasting that or the spices. :-/ Sad.

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20 Michelle September 21, 2013 at 5:24 am

The recipe calls for raw beets. Your canned beets would be cooked, which would cause all kinds of problems with this recipe. Beets are great! Buy them fresh and try this recipe again:)

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21 Jane February 14, 2012 at 8:52 am

These look amazing! And I love the word “beet-zzas”!!

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22 Jane February 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hi Susan – I just wanted to let you know — I made these this weekend, and they are so good! I had them as meatballs (over quinoa), and my meat-loving husband loved them too! Thank you :)

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23 Heidi February 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi – these sound fabulous! As do beet-zzas! I can’t do chickpeas – do you think the quinoa could substitute for the chickpeas instead of the nuts? Or do you have another idea?

Thanks!

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24 Susan Voisin February 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

Can you do another type of bean? Lentils or white beans would make a good substitute. I’m just afraid that quinoa won’t be sticky enough on its own.

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25 Heidi February 17, 2012 at 8:56 am

Thanks. I should have thought to use cannelloni beans, which I discovered when I made your lovely Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf!

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26 Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) February 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

Delicious and totally gluten free! Can’t wait to try it!

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27 moonwatcher February 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hi Susan,

Happy Valentine’s Day! These look fantastic! And I love all the beet-derived terms you get out of this, my favorite being beetzas!! Wonderful! Today is a special day for me because it’s the fourth anniversary of the official start of this WOE for me, and the 16th anniversary of the official diagnosis of MS. Four years ago I was starting out, and my “special” dinner to myself was your ridiculously easy lasagne (with DeBoles gluten free noodles), a big salad with an orange juice and fig vinegar dressing, and your skinny figgy bars for dessert. Although I have simpler fare planned for tonight, now I’m going to have to extend the celebration and make myself some of these beetballs and gluten free spaghetti. I am a big fan of beets, as you may know. And an Italian girl like me has great memories of homemade meatballs and now I can have beets and meatballs in one!

I really look forward to trying these out. Thanks again for another stunning recipe. You have inspired me all the way, and continue to do so. May all your wonderful dreams come true.

xoxo

moonwatcher

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28 Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry February 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

What an incredible recipe! The flavors from the mushrooms and spices must be scrumptious paired together. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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29 Laina February 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hi Susan,

I have tried to like beets, but I just don’t. :(

Is there a sub you’d could recommend to replace the beets?

Thanks-a-bunch!!!

Laina :-)

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30 Susan Voisin February 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Laina, I have to tell you that I honestly couldn’t taste the beet in these, so it’s a good way to eat beets without tasting them. But if you really don’t want to use the beet, any starchy vegetable should do. Sweet potato would be a good choice.

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31 Laina February 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Okay, thanks, Susan. I’ll give the beets a try. I can always pinch my nose if they don’t turn out. hee hee!! And if I find that I like them, I’ll feel good about being able to eat/enjoy beets is such a tasteful way. :)

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32 Laina February 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Oops, meant to ask another question. If I use button mushrooms, how much should I use?

By the way, Congrats on winning the Mom’s contest. You deserve it!!! :)

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33 Susan Voisin February 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Thanks! :-)

I knew someone was going to ask about the mushrooms. The truth is I don’t know. I’ll take a wild guess and say 1/2-3/4 cup of sliced mushrooms.

34 Brenda February 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm

these beetballs will be a great substitute for processed non-meat. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes. I voted for you!

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35 Julie February 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Finally! A tasty-sounding alternative to the frozen meatballs with TVP. I’ve been looking for something to give to my toddler. I hope they go over well.

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36 Russell at Chasing Delicious February 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm

How cool is this! I definitely want to try this soon.

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37 Debbie February 15, 2012 at 6:42 am

I have a daughter allergic to tree nuts. Can I substitute the almonds for something else? Also, I noticed tree nuts are in a lot of vegan recipes. Is there a general substitute that I can use? Would sunflower seeds work?

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38 Susan Voisin February 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

Sunflower seeds will work in this recipe and in a lot of vegan recipes. I don’t think they will get “creamy,” so they may not work as a substitute for cashews in cream sauce. Then again, they might! I just haven’t tried them.

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39 Pui February 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

Tried the other recipes on your blog. Great tastes. However I found out my girl she’s having allergic reaction (allergy history to dairy and egg too) to nutritional yeast. What can I use to replace nutritional yeast?

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40 Susan Voisin February 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

You can just leave the nutritional yeast out.

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41 Shaza February 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

This is my first time posting on your blog although I’ve been a silent follower for a LONG time!
This looks absolutely delish – my fiance loves meat and I’m trying to gather veg-friendly recipe’s that I think he’ll also love.

~ Shaza ~

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42 Emily February 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

We have a flax seed allergy in the family–would chia seeds work? If so, would you try to grind them? I will also need to substitute either sunflower seeds or quinoa for the pecans (we have a nut allergy, too.) Or should I do quinoa for the pecans and sunflower seeds for the flax? Finally, would you use raw or roasted sunflower seeds?

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43 Susan Voisin February 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Chia seeds instead of flax is fine, either ground or unground. You could use either quinoa or sunflower seeds for the pecans, whichever you prefer.

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44 Tzivia February 16, 2012 at 2:31 am

We have been fat free vegans for approx 6 months now and I don’t think we would have made the transition as easily without your website and recipe index. We can’t thank you enough!
This particular recipe was so easy and absolutely delicious. I couldn’t find dried mushrooms so I just used fresh ones. The smoked paprika was the hit secret ingredient for me. I served it with rice and quinoa and a homemade tomato sauce. My husband was blown away!!!

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45 Pui February 16, 2012 at 4:50 am

Me again. Read your web about nutritional yeast. I just wonder why my girl she’s ok with normal yeast like the one in bread and not nutritional yeast. Do you have any ideas?

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46 Susan Voisin February 16, 2012 at 7:37 am

I’m sorry, but I just don’t know. It’s possible to be allergic to anything, so I guess she’s sensitive to it. You should be able to leave it out of most recipes with no problem, though you should avoid those that use it for most of their flavor, like cheesy sauces.

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47 Ninufar February 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm

FWIW, even some of the “cheeze” sauce recipes from J. Stepaniak work okay without adding the nutritional yeast. (And the recipes I have are from a little cookbook put out by a nutritional yeast manufacturer!) White beans and onion taste really good on their own, if you’re okay without a strong sharp taste.

What will also be different is texture, bc the “nooch” makes mixtures more viscous, too. Just wanted to echo that you can totally leave it out of almost any recipe! Best wishes to your daughter.

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48 Gena February 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

I recently made a raw version of beet balls and absolutely loved them! Great recipe.

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49 Natalie February 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm

When I gave up meat, meatballs were what I missed most. Thanks so much for this recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

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50 Sarah Husband February 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm

We just made these and they are really delish! The store didn’t have dried porcinis so we used dried portobellos. Also we happened to have black eyed peas on hand so used them instead of chickpeas. The flavoring is really fantastic.

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51 Tigerseye February 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hello :)

Sorry to be a pain. Being from Australia, sometimes the names for ingredients can differ on this side of the globe. What we call ‘beets’, is beetroot, but these beetballs don’t have any maroon’ish colouration. Is there another name, or some other beet that I know nothing about.

Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. I have been an avid reader for a few months now and have been able to show my family of carnivores that my eating is pretty fabulous ever since :) They actually look forward to vegie meals, who would have thought!

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52 Susan Voisin February 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hi Tigerseye, here we have different varieties/colors of beetroot, and I used a golden one for this because that’s what I happened to have in the fridge. The regular red kind will work just the same.

Thanks for reading!

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53 Tigerseye February 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Oh good :) I can’t wait to try it. The variety of goods available in other parts of the globe is interesting to say the least. I will have to head out to the markets one day, and see what I can find, as I am beginning to feel like a sheltered child.

Thanks very much and have a great day :)

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54 radioactivegan February 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm

This look delicious! I have them bookmarked for the summer when people start giving me beets by the bushel!

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55 Nancy February 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I made this recipe last night. WONDERFUL!!! I have to say that I was too tired to make meat balls — so I used my 1/2 cup and made “burgers” instead. My husband and I both had several. Thanks for the great recipe.

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56 Mari February 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

Made therse for Valentine’s Day, great success!

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57 Maggie February 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

Beetballs, they look delicious! When I was a meat eater, my boyfriend made me these amazing meatballs with spaghetti. It was my favourite dish but obviously it doesn’t count anymore. I’ve been looking for recipes to resemble it! Maybe this one makes it! Thanks!

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58 Beth Gough February 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Can I use regular fresh button mushrooms instead of the dried porcini mushrooms?

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59 Abigail Velez February 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

We are a typical American family experimenting with vegan dishes once a week to try to broaden our horizons. I liked the idea of beets this week as I’ve never cooked with them or cared for them much but the beautiful blood red color makes me want to love them! So tonight I made beet balls and beet cake for my three slightly picky boys. I thought they would hate them but they ate them up!! Even my 4 year old who won’t eat a vegetable if it’s not a cucumber, chowed down. And they loved the beet cake as well. Thanks for shocking the pants off of me! I think these beet balls would be even better on a pizza. I saved five of them and we’ll have pizza sometime this week as well.

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60 Dr. Cat, The Happy Rehab Doc February 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Susan this looks awesome. Is there anything you could think of that I could substitute for the flaxseeds? I seem to be food sensitive to both them and chia seeds! Thanks! :-)

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61 Susan Voisin February 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm

You could use potato or corn starch instead of the flax–just something to help them stick together.

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62 K April 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm

if i were to add a tsp of corn starch to it along with all the other ingredients would that make them firmer/more together? I like really together sort of meatballs.

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63 Rabyn February 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hi Susan! I’ve been “silently” following you for a while (does that make me a stalker? ;-) ), but HAD to comment on this recipe. It was amazing! Me and the omni fiance (he calls himself an accidental vegan because I do most of the cooking and he’s surprised by how much he likes the food we eat) absolutely loved the beetballs. They were phenomenal! I’m going to play around with making a “beetloaf” soon from this recipe. We also really liked the scrambled tofu and kale… yum! Thanks for all your awesome recipes!

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64 Carson February 23, 2012 at 1:48 am

Would you be able to use brown rice instead of pecans or quinoa?
Thank you!

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65 Susan Voisin February 23, 2012 at 7:30 am

I’m sure you could. The texture will be different, but the flavor shouldn’t be bad.

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66 moonwatcher February 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm

HI again Susan,

These are delicious! And the best part of all is that I am getting to alternate having them with brown rice pasta and spaghetti squash. When you posted about having them that way at the conference I thought that sounded great, so was thrilled to see a few spaghetti squash at my co-op. I made them with a red beet, and since I had only 1/4 cup pecans I used those and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa. I almost made the “dough” too wet in worrying it was too dry, but all turned out. They are so much fun!

Thanks–

xo

moonwatcher

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67 Marie-Pier February 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I really don’t like mushrooms… Is there any substitue for it? thank you.

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68 Trinka February 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

just use veg broth or any you prefer. I’ve also used whte wine for a more “adult” flavor.

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69 Trinka February 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

use potato, or any vegi that adds moisture and texture.

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70 Susan Voisin February 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm

If I promise you that you won’t notice the mushrooms, would you give them a try? :-) if not, you can just use additional chickpeas, about an extra half cup.

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71 Kim February 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Whoa, made these with red beets and they were wayy too beet-ey. They didn’t cook very well either, they were still kinda raw. I can see where these could work for me though. I think I just need a golden beet, more chickpeas and chop everything smaller in my food processor. I must have such a small food processor, I had to chop everything separately and mix in a bowl. Try try again!

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72 Lacie February 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

so flippin’ good. I just made them and was amazed. i’ve got to follow a gluten, soy and dairy free diet because my daughter is breastfed and allergic to these things. I have not had a single meat substitute (though I love them) in 15 months! If you have any others, I’d like to try them :) This was right up there with tofurkey or gimme lean soysauges. we had ours on millet toast, daiya cheese and tomato sauce sandwhiches. love your blog, thanks!

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73 Jordan February 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Just made the beetballs version using the quinoa. These are SO good! They tasted a bit like a spicy italian sausage. The spices are so amazing! Thank you for the recipe!!

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74 shirley February 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

Made these last night and they were delicious. Thank you for another great recipe.

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75 Allyne February 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Looks delish, I was wondering if you could sub the mushrooms for something else??? Maybe Cauliflower? I have a strong dislike for mushrooms! Any suggestions?

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76 Susan Voisin February 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

I would just use a little more chickpeas, though I promise, you probably wouldn’t notice the mushrooms. They just lend a background flavor. Plus, they’re extremely good for you!

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77 liz February 28, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi,

Thank you for your wonderful recipes. I want to make the beetballs for a dinner party. Is the beet raw, or cooked, when you put it in the food processor? Thank you for your help!

Kind regards,

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78 Susan Voisin February 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hi Liz–it’s raw. Just peel it and chop. Hope you enjoy it!

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79 Vegetarians February 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Never thought beets can be so versatile and be used for recipes like this. The photos of the final dishes looks good to eat and that makes me really excited here to give it a try. By the way, if porcini mushrooms are not available for some reason, what can we use as a good substitute?

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80 Nia February 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Everytime I make a recipe from your site I just swear that it’s the best thing I ever had! But, this one was just the creme de la creme! So amazing! It was just delicious, easy and won my hubby over too! I didn’t even have all of the exact ingredients (I used chickpea flour instead of chickpeas, I used portabello mushrooms instead of shitake and dark soy sauce instead of liquid smoke). You really make healthy eating enjoyable! Thanks!

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81 Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner March 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Nom nom nom. <3

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82 Amber March 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Totally tried these last week! They were absolutely delish and even passed a fast one on my 5 year old… he had no idea! :) Thanks for posting this!

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83 Jane Chesebro March 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Can you make the beetballs without yeast?? Thanks Christy.

Janie

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84 Susan Voisin March 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Yes, they just taste a little more bland.

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85 Jenn B. March 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

These beetballs were amazing! My husband and I gobbled them all up! I have to be honest I had my doubts, but I was pleasantly surprised at how nice this recipe comes together. I did however use 3 oz of fresh baby portobellos since I didn’t have any dried mushrooms, and the recipe still worked great!

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86 Esther J April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Once again, one of your recipes was a hit in my omnivore household! My stepdad, steak-eater that he is, cleaned his plate. I myself appreciated the sausage taste (back in my omnivore days, I loved italian-styled chicken sausages).

Big thanks for this and all you do!

E

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87 Esther J April 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I should also add that my stepdad requested that the leftovers be left for him to take to lunch tomorrow.

Trust me, that’s a compliment (the committed consumer of the Standard American Diet he is).

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88 Lovisa April 22, 2012 at 4:56 am

Thanks for this wonderful recipe Susan! I made them with quinoa which worked well, but they took a bit longer to cook as they were a bit too wet. I got some out for dinner and left the rest in and after about an hour (turning half way) they had a much better consistency and held together well after the longer cooking time. Either way, really tasty!

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89 Tricia April 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I made the nut version of these last weekend and they were awesome. My beets may have been a little large because I ended up with a few more than 22 beetballs, but the texture was perfect – they held together wonderfully. My only warning is do not try to make 2 batches of these in a food processor at once. I thought I had a pretty large food processor, but it was so full I ended up making more of a paste with the ingredients than advised. That’ll teach me to be greedy… but they turned out great anyway and now I have a nice stash of beetballs in the freezer!

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90 eva @VegucatingMyKids April 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

i made these this week!…i have been vegan for 2 years now and i am always looking for alternatives to processed vegan ‘meat’…i make my own seitan, i make my own TVPish product (tofu frozen, defrosted, water squished out, and dehydrated), and now i have another alternative for eat-balls….this recipe was easy to make…although beets are not my kids’ favorite, they did eat these!! my 10 yr old loved them and my 8 yr old was on the fence, but i know with younger children it’s about repeated exposure–in this case to beets…but she did eat them…and i loved the texture…thanks for giving me the idea to use the other beetballs for a pizza topping–i had a ton of them leftover, which i froze and know they will come in handy…
thank you for this recipe! tasty stuff : D

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91 ti September 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I had never thought of making my own TVP!! Thanks for commenting about that! Great tips from Susan AND her readers!

All the best.

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92 Erin May 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

Do these freeze well? Would you recommend freezing before or after baking?

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93 Susan Voisin May 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t freeze well either way. I would probably bake them first and then freeze them, so that all they need is to be defrosted and warmed up later.

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94 Heather McCann May 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm

This sounds fantastic!!! Nice job! I can’t WAIT to try these!
- Heather
PlantBasedDietAdventures.com

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95 Shari May 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hi – what is “rubbed” sage? I have sage growing in my garden, is that good?

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96 Susan Voisin May 22, 2012 at 9:21 am

Rubbed sage is sage that has been dried and then crushed to a powder. You could use chopped fresh sage, but you will probably need more (maybe 3 times more) of it.

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97 Shari May 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

thank you!

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98 Shari May 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

Just to let you know, even though I probably ate half the mixture before baking (the quinoa version), they came out really good.
I might go for falafel-type seasoning next time, just out of curiosity.

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99 Mina June 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

I’m in the middle of making these now…so excited!

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100 Mina June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Ok, we just finished them and they are winners, for sure!

I used fresh button mushrooms (one cup, before slicing and “frying” without oil), subbed the fresh herbs for a couple of tsp of ‘dried mixed Italian herbs’ and instead of the mushroom water I added one tbsp of low sodium soy sauce to help it bind.

It was absolutely fantastic, but MY is it filling. I only had three small beetballs, and a little spaghetti and then had to power through my side salad (my other half, on the other hand had 5 largish beetballs atop a mountain of spaghetti then asked if there were enough leftovers for work tomorrow…maybe it’s just me)

Either way, they were fantastic. I might try tweaking the herbs and spices and use the mix for a burger as the texture is lovely!

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101 Melissa June 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

These recipes sound very good I can’t wait to try them. Are there any frozen meat substitutes that are gluten free. If so do you know where I can purchase them. I also was wondering if I could make the beetballs ahead and freeze them. Thank you.

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102 Susan Voisin June 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

These should freeze just fine. I’m afraid I don’t know of any gluten-free meat substitutes that you can buy.

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103 Katy D July 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

Another fantastic recipe! Thank you so much! They fed my husband and I twice, were delicious on an open face sandwich with caramelized onions then again with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Amazing! Looking forward to trying these out on some non-veg relatives :).

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104 Marisa July 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

these look great! i love beets :) do you think they would freeze well?

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105 Susan Voisin July 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Yes, I don’t see any reason not to freeze them. Enjoy!

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106 KC July 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I have these in the oven right now and OH MY they smell delicious! They don’t smell like beets (even though we like beets anyway). I didn’t have any fennel, but I personally don’t care for it anyway, so put in a bit more Italian seasoning instead. I also made them with regular white mushrooms, which I dry pan heated until they wilted (per another poster’s comment). I can’t wait to have them for dinner tonight. Thank so much for all the wonderful recipes! I have one more beet to use up and the chocolate beet cake recipe is tempting me…

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107 Nathalie July 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Excellent recipe… However, instead of making meatballs, I used the recipe to make veggie burgers, and modified it slightly. I added about 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs to the mix, and coated each patty with same. The patties were baked at the suggested temperature, but for 2x the amount of time. Half way through baking, the patties were flipped over.
I bought some good bread at whole foods, used a slice of tomato and some avocados and had the most delicious veggie burgers!

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108 RS September 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Having tried beet balls at Portland’s Portobello restaurant and falling in love, my jaw dropped when my cousin found your recipe. We immediately set forth on our first beet ball adventure, to delightful results. Using spaghetti squash as pasta, we made an edamame pesto (from Isa’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook) and topped with your beet balls. The beet balls were delicious and crumbly and SO flavorful! Those fennel seeds really are the key to a traditional meatball flavor, I think. Bravo! The whole family enjoyed these tremendously. By the way, we used pecans and fresh mushrooms (still cooked them though). Thank you for adding a great go-to recipe to our collection.

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109 Donna C. September 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hello, I have been making a list of many of your recipes to try. So far they have all been a hit. I am going to try these beetballs tonight. Do you think ground fennel seed would work as well and if so, should I do a bit less than you originally call for? Also, I am going to try this with chopped walnuts because that is what I have in my pantry. I am so excited to have an unprocessed meat substitute for my world famous oh-so-secret family spaghetti sauce recipe. I will let you know how they turn out. Keep up the good work!

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110 Susan Voisin September 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Yes, just decrease the ground fennel–I would use half. Hope you enjoy them!

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111 Marylin October 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I wonder if this “meat” would do well for a shepherd’s pie?

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112 April October 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I just put mine in the oven! Mine were quite wet- I think I might have used a bigger beet than I was supposed to. It made a lot of beetballs, too. I hope it doesn’t affect the taste >.< This is actually my first time cooking with beets (Koreans don't eat them very often) so I have no idea what to expect, but the description was irresistible! I'll update after I actually eat them!

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113 Monica November 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm

These rock my world, Susan! So far my favourite way to serve them is with a dollop of good dijon mustard, and a salad of apple, celery, carrot and honey mustard dressing. Totally the business. Thank you!

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114 lucinda December 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Can you substitute cremini mushrooms for the porcinis? No store in my area carries them.

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115 Aimee DuFresne February 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Oh MY! These look delicious! I’m going to try the quinoa option. Thanks so much!

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116 Maria February 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

Looks delicious!
Can i use regular mushrooms? Or do they have to be dried?

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117 Susan Voisin February 28, 2013 at 11:43 am

Yes, you could probably use 3-4 ounce of fresh.

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118 Denise Johnson March 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ve been looking for a soy free, wheat or gluten free subsitute fake meat recipe.

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119 dinaa lynn March 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

This is a recipe that I have wanted to try. Thanks for breaking it down. I enjoyed the photos.

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120 Diane May 8, 2013 at 4:36 am

I finally tried these and they do take some time, but they are so worth it! Lovely sausage-like flavor, a good consistency, and very versatile. I doubled the recipe so I could freeze some for later, but I ate them all within a few days! I like the flattened “beetsausage patties” best because of their crispier texture. As noted, the beetballs do fall apart if they’re left in spaghetti sauce or other liquid for too long, so definitely reheat separately and then add to sauce or soup.

I had spaghetti and beetballs (beetsauce the first time, before I learned to heat beetballs separately!), veggie soup with beetballs (like Italian Wedding Soup?), beetball marinara sandwich (served with soup), breakfast burrito with beetsausages, veggie and crumbled beetball unfried rice (as a side), and a veggie and beetsausage pita pizza. All delicious!!

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121 Michelle September 21, 2013 at 5:10 am

Wow! This recipe is absolutely fantastic. Yes it is a bit labor intensive but totally worth it. Next time, I will triple the recipe and freeze the extra.

Thank you for sharing such a great recipe!

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122 Bill Hopkins September 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I have made them twice now, and the second time was a double batch! I have a dozen or so left from that, and my 18 month old grandson Ike is coming over tomorrow for his 3rd go at beetballs and spaghetti! I also made a beetball pizza with Moosewood Cafe’s whole wheat crust…fabulous! I usually tinker with recipes, but this is a knockout as is.

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123 kri September 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Hi there – you don’t mention the baking temperature. Can you please provide? I just prepared them – excited to try!

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124 Susan Voisin September 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

350F. It’s in step 4. Hope you enjoy them!

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125 Ameyo December 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

Hi Susan, thanks for this website. I am vegan and tired of eating the same things and so I was searching the web for new things and came across your site. I want to make vegan saussages and meatballs. So I’ll try some of your’s thanks. Please reply. Ameyo

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126 Laura February 16, 2014 at 3:14 pm

How big is a medium beet? Can you give me an approximate weight? Thanks much! Can’t wait to try this.

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127 Susan Voisin February 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I don’t have one right now, but the next time I see them at the store, I will pick one up and weigh it for you.

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128 Laura February 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Thanks!

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129 Em March 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

I made this last night and was able to get some dried porcini mushrooms which are pricey- turns out my family loves this so much that I have to double the recipe next time but when I look a the cost of that it is fine. Awesome!

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130 Amy July 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Does anyone know if these freeze well??

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131 Susan Voisin July 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Once they’re cooked, they should freeze without any problems.

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