I’ve been obsessed the last couple of weeks with coming up with a gluten-free mix that I could keep on-hand to make quick “meatballs” for spaghetti and sandwiches. I don’t know what got me started on this quixotic mission, but the result is that I’ve made so many balls in the last few days that I’m sick of them, though still strangely obsessed. Last night, as I was eating the latest batch atop shirataki noodles, I had the passing thought, “What if I just broke down and made a batch with gluten?” and my mouth blurted out, “Absolutely not!” My family eyed me warily and moved their knives out of my reach.
So this is it, my final version. It uses walnuts, kasha, and oatmeal to give the balls some texture and chickpea flour to hold it all together. It’s a completely dry mix, so you can make it in big batches and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to mix it with water. Honestly, the texture is more like falafel (with an Italian flavor) than a meat substitute, but we still enjoyed them in meatball subs and on pasta (hubby and daughter) and on spaghetti squash and tofu shirataki noodles (wheat-avoiding me). Feel free to experiment with different seasonings, but if you become obsessed, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Speaking of obsessions, I’ve been toying around with Google+ and a new app from Twitter called Vine. Check out the 6-second video of the meatball-making process that I created on Vine and then uploaded to Google+. And feel free to follow me at both (I’m SusanV on Vine).
Gluten-Free and Vegan Meatball Mix
These balls are similar to falafel in texture, and because they are bean and grain based, they will fall apart if submerged in sauce for too long. So it’s best to add them to your sauce briefly after it’s hot or pour the sauce over them.
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (1.5 ounce), or other nuts or seeds (see notes below)
- 1/3 cup rolled oats (quick or old fashioned) or quinoa flakes
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
- 1/4 cup kasha (gluten-free) or bulgur wheat (not gluten-free), fine or medium granulation
- 1 tablespoon potato or corn starch
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons dehydrated onion flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon tomato powder, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- Put the nuts and oats (or quinoa flakes) into a food processor and pulse several times to coarsely chop the nuts. Do not grind to a flour–they should be about the size of popcorn kernels. Pour into a bowl or storage bag.
- Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Keep prepared mix in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the entire batch of mix, pour it into a bowl and add 2/3 cup boiling water. Stir and let stand for 15 minutes as you preheat oven to 350 F.
- Using wet hands, form the mixture into about 12 1-inch balls. Place on a silicone mat or oiled baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Cover with hot spaghetti sauce and serve.
- To make 1/2 a batch, measure out 3/4 of a cup of the mixture and add 1/3 cup boiling water. Proceed as above.
To keep these gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats or quinoa flakes. Not all people following a gluten-free diet can tolerate oats, so ask first.
The fennel and red pepper flakes add a sausage flavor and spiciness, but you can leave them out for a milder taste. Tomato powder adds color and flavor but can be omitted; instead, try using tomato sauce instead of some of the water to hydrate the mix.
If you’re avoiding nuts and seeds, you can leave them out and add an extra 1/3 cup of oats.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6 (about 12 balls)
Nutrition (per 1/6 of recipe, approximately two balls): 132 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 307mg sodium, 177.2mg potassium, 17.2g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 5.3g protein.
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