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NEATBALLS The Vegan Answer to Meatballs.

"Neatballs" are the vegan vegan /veg·an/ (ve´gan) (vej´an) a vegetarian whose diet excludes all food of animal origin.

 answer to meatballs. You don t have to kill a cow to fill a pita or top a pizza. Just turn to some simple ingredients and you'll be dishing up fabulous pasta and topping pizza in no time.

You'll see by the recipes that neatballs require "normal" ingredients and take very little kitchen expertise. Since they do take some time to make (as opposed to a sandwich), we recommend that you make double batches of your neatballs and freeze one batch. That way you'll have fast, convenient meals filed away until you need them.

If cooking from scratch is not always an option, there are several quick alternatives. We thawed some "burger" (as in soy burger) crumbles, mixed them well with chopped onions, bell pepper, garlic, and mashed firm tofu tofu

Soft, bland, custardlike food product made from soybeans. Believed to date from China's Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), tofu is today an important source of protein in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia.
 and came up with an excellent neatball which could be baked or fried. Falafel fa·la·fel or fe·la·fel  
1. Ground spiced chickpeas shaped into balls and fried.

2. A sandwich filled with such a mixture.
 mix makes up great neatballs; after following the directions on the package, we added cooked corn and chopped red peppers to make a Mediterranean neatball. We served this with tabbouleh tab·bou·leh or ta·bou·leh  
A Lebanese salad made with bulgur wheat and finely chopped scallions, tomatoes, mint, and parsley.

[Arabic tabb
 and couscous cous·cous  
1. A pasta of North African origin made of crushed and steamed semolina.

2. A North African dish consisting of pasta steamed with a meat and vegetable stew.
. Frozen veggie burgers can be thawed (in the refrigerator) and shaped into neatballs; top a neatball sandwich with barbecue sauce, mushroom sauce, or salsa and you have a great, quick lunch.

The key to neatballs is the "glue"--what makes a wonderfully flavored mixture stick together. We have found that moist ingredients, such as mashed potatoes n. pl. 1. Potatoes which have been boiled and mashed to a pulpy consistency, usu. with sparing addition of milk, salt, butter, or other flavoring. It is a popular accompaniment to a meat course [U.S., 1900's], providing bulk and calories to a meal. , cooked brown rice or sticky, glutinous rice Glutinous rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa or Oryza glutinosa; also called sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice, botan rice, mochi rice, and pearl rice  (found in Asian markets), cooked cereal (such as cream of rice), and cooked whole wheat, help to hold together dry ingredients, such as cooked, chopped beans or chopped veggies Veggies of Nottingham, also known as Veggies Catering Campaign, is a campaigning group based in Nottingham, England, promoting ethicalbum alternatives to mainstream fast food. . Dry ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, whole wheat flour Noun 1. whole wheat flour - flour made by grinding the entire wheat berry including the bran; (`whole meal flour' is British usage)
graham flour, whole meal flour, graham

wheat flour - flour prepared from wheat

Britain, Great Britain, U.K.
, and ground nuts, help to hold together moist ingredients, such as tofu, cooked corn, and chopped mushrooms. Refrigerating re·frig·er·ate  
tr.v. re·frig·er·at·ed, re·frig·er·at·ing, re·frig·er·ates
1. To cool or chill (a substance).

2. To preserve (food) by chilling.
 uncooked neatballs helps to hold them together for cooking as well.

If you find that your neatball mixture needs thinning out, use liquid that will add flavor and/or color, such as tomato, carrot, celery, or vegetable cocktail juice, vegetable stock, mushroom broth, and pureed vegetables (such as carrots, celery, broccoli, and peas). If your mixture needs thickening, reach for seasoned breadcrumbs, matzo meal (which can be seasoned with pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder Onion powder is a spice used for seasoning in cooking. It is made from finely ground dehydrated onions, mainly the pungent varieties of bulb onions, which causes the powder to have a very strong smell. ), ground nuts (such as walnuts or almonds), mashed potato mix, and nut flours.

Neatballs can be as simple as rolled mashed potatoes stiffened with breadcrumbs, or tofu thickened thick·en  
tr. & intr.v. thick·ened, thick·en·ing, thick·ens
1. To make or become thick or thicker: Thicken the sauce with cornstarch. The crowd thickened near the doorway.

 with wheat germ wheat germ
The vitamin-rich embryo of the wheat kernel that is separated before milling for use as a cereal or food supplement.

wheat germ

the vitamin-rich middle part of a grain of wheat
 and matzo meal. But you have to add more interesting ingredients so your diners won't go to sleep in the mashed potatoes. For crunch, think chopped, toasted nuts (such as pecans or pine nuts), seeds (such as sesame or pumpkin), or soy bits (such as soy nuts or "bacon" bits). Flavor can be "hot" (think chili powder, Tabasco, red pepper flakes, ginger, and chopped fresh or canned chilies), Asian (think soy sauce, tamari ta·ma·ri  
Soy sauce made without wheat.

, miso (Multiple Inputs Single Output) Pronounced "my-so," it is the use of multiple transmitters and a single receiver on a wireless device to improve the transmission distance. See MIMO. , ginger, lemon grass lem·on·grass also lemon grass  
A tropical grass (Cymbopogon citratus) native to southern India and Sri Lanka, yielding an aromatic oil used as flavoring and in perfumery and medicine.

Noun 1.
), Indian (think turmeric turmeric: see ginger.

Perennial herbaceous plant (Curcuma longa; family Zingiberaceae), native to southern India and Indonesia. Its tuberous rhizomes have been used from antiquity as a condiment, as a textile dye, and medically as an
, curry powder mixes, garam masala, coriander coriander (kōr'ēăn`dər), strong-smelling Old World annual herb (Coriandrum sativum) of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), cultivated for its fruits. , fennel fennel, common name for several perennial herbs, genus Foeniculum vulgare of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), related to dill. The strawlike foliage and the seeds are licorice-scented and are used (especially in Italian cooking) for flavoring. ), Central American (think salsa, cilantro, chopped chilies, lemon or lime juice, chopped tomatoes), Mediterranean (think sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano oregano (ərĕg`ənō), name for several herbs used for flavoring food. A plant of the family Labiatae (mint family), Origanum vulgare, , balsamic vinegar, parsley), or Southern French (think thyme, pepper, lavender, sage).

Sauces for neatballs run the gamut. Take a can of your favorite vegan soup (tomato or mushroom come to mind), add chopped veggies (such as tomatoes, carrots, and onions for tomato soup, or celery and onions for the mushroom), and dilute with pureed tofu. This will make a creamy gravy. Thicken thick·en  
tr. & intr.v. thick·ened, thick·en·ing, thick·ens
1. To make or become thick or thicker: Thicken the sauce with cornstarch. The crowd thickened near the doorway.

 vegetable or mushroom gravy with cornstarch cornstarch, material made by pulverizing the ground, dried residue of corn grains after preparatory soaking and the removal of the embryo and the outer covering. It is used as laundry starch, in sizing paper, in making adhesives, and in cooking.  for a homestyle gravy (we sometimes cheat and use mashed potato mix instead of cornstarch; it's faster and takes less concentration). Tomato sauce is fine out of the can or "spiked" with chopped canned or fresh tomatoes, fresh or canned mushrooms, fresh or dried basil and oregano, and fresh or dried garlic. For a creamy tomato sauce, stir in some pureed tofu or soy yogurt (unflavored). Barbecue sauce is also fine right out of the bottle, or create your own with tomato puree, catsup, mustard, and molasses molasses, sugar byproduct, the brownish liquid residue left after heat crystallization of sucrose (commercial sugar) in the process of refining. Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallizable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose. .

Whether you serve your neatballs as all entree or as sandwich stuffing, or stick toothpicks in them and offer them as an appetizer, the people around your table will enjoy them (and you, for creating such wonderful dishes).


(Makes approximately 20 balls; 4 servings)
1/2 cup soymilk
3 Tablespoons prepared mustard
1 cup white wine or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 pound soft tofu, mashed

Mix all ingredients, except tofu, in a medium bowl until combined. Gradually add tofu and mix until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate re·frig·er·ate  
tr.v. re·frig·er·at·ed, re·frig·er·at·ing, re·frig·er·ates
1. To cool or chill (a substance).

2. To preserve (food) by chilling.
 until ready to use.
Vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 pounds firm tofu, crumbled into very
  small pieces
1 cup diced onions
1 1/3 cups canned or fresh sauerkraut,
  well drained
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray frying pan with vegetable oil spray and saute sau·té  
tr.v. sau·téed, sau·té·ing, sau·tés
To fry lightly in fat in a shallow open pan.

A dish of food so prepared.
 tofu, onions, sauerkraut, and mustard until onions are soft (about 5 minutes).

Place sauteed mixture in a blender and add soymilk soy·milk  
A milk substitute made from soybeans, often supplemented with vitamins.

Noun 1. soymilk - a milk substitute containing soybean flour and water; used in some infant formulas and in making tofu
 and tomato paste. Blend for one minute or until just combined. Add breadcrumbs and paprika paprika: see pepper.  and blend for 30 seconds or until just combined (if overblended, mixture will not hold shape).

Roll mixture into about 20 balls. Spray baking sheet with oil; place balls in single layer on sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until browned.

Pour half of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Place tofu balls on sauce, and top with remaining sauce. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Total calories per serving: 502 Carbohydrates: 44 grams Sodium: 1188 milligrams High in calcium, iron, and zinc Fat: 22 grams Protein: 41 grams Fiber: 9 grams


(Serves 6)

The dough from this recipe can be shaped into balls and served as a cold appetizer on a bed of baby greens or cold couscous, pressed into a loaf pan and sliced (as a vegan pate), or spread on veggies or crackers or used as a sandwich spread--your choice!
Vegetable oil spray
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup whole hazelnuts (also called filberts)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (see note)
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a medium frying pan, spray vegetable oil and heat. Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic until soft (about 4 minutes). Place vegetables and all remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Mixture will be very thick. Form into small balls or patties and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Note: Red Star's Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin [B.sub.12]. Look for this product in your local natural foods store.

Total calories per serving: 134 Carbohydrates: 5 grams Sodium: 59 milligrams Fat: 12 grams Protein: 4 grams Fiber: 2 grams


(Serves 8)

These "neatballs" go well with a tomato or pesto sauce, served over pasta, or used as a "neatball" sandwich in pita or on crusty French bread.
1 1/2 cups walnuts
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups drained and mashed firm tofu
1 cup dry breadcrumbs or matzo meal
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon miso

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange walnuts on an ungreased cookie sheet, place in oven, and allow to toast for about 5 minutes. When cool, place them in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and grind into a fine meal.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix nut meal, rice, tofu, breadcrumbs, basil, and thyme until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the lemon juice. Stir and add miso.

Add cornstarch mixture to the main mixture. Use your hands to thoroughly moisten the dry ingredients; work with the mixture until it holds together. If the mixture is too dry or dense, add small amounts of water until the consistency will hold together, and is not too dry.

Roll mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet (if not nonstick non·stick  
Permitting easy removal of adherent food particles: a frying pan with a nonstick surface.

, line with baking parchment or spray with vegetable oil). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until hot.

Note: This mixture can also be pressed into a small loaf pan and baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (about 9 minutes) before slicing.

Total calories per serving: 357 Carbohydrates: 35 grams Sodium: 209 milligrams High in iron Fat: 19 grams Protein: 17 grams Fiber: 4 grams


(Serves 6)

This is a great "pantry" recipe, as many of the ingredients should already be on your shelf. This is also a terrific way to use leftover veggies. Serve with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob for a hearty meal.
One 16-ounce can (or 1 1/2 cups) sliced
  carrots, drained (reserve liquid)
One 16-ounce can (or 1 1/2 cups) cut green
  beans, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto or red beans
2 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted
  vegan margarine
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
2 Tablespoons silken tofu
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place carrots, green beans, and pinto beans in a blender or food processor, and puree pu·rée or pu·ree  
tr.v. pu·réed or pu·reed, pu·rée·ing or pu·ree·ing, pu·rées or pu·rees
To rub through a strainer or process (food) in a blender.

 until almost smooth.

Put mixture in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients until well combined. If mixture is too thick, add some of the reserved carrot liquid; if it is too thin, add additional breadcrumbs.

Roll mixture into small balls and place on nonstick cookie sheet (or spray with vegetable oil spray). Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until heated and lightly browned.

Note: This mixture can be pressed into a small loaf pan and baked at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or pressed into patties and fried or baked as burgers.

Total calories per serving: 316 Carbohydrates: 53 grams Sodium: 1170 milligrams High in iron Fat: 8 grams Protein: 10 grams Fiber: 6 grams


(Serves 8)

This recipe requires some prep time, as the wheat needs to sit for at least 6 hours. They can be fried in a small amount of foil or baked in the oven. These go well with pasta as an entree, can be crumbled and used as a pizza topping, or chopped and served with barbecue sauce as a sloppy joe. Make an extra batch and freeze for later use.
1 cup uncooked whole wheat
1/2 cup peeled, diced potato (uncooked)
1/2 cup peeled, sliced carrots (uncooked)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/4 cup chopped radishes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
Oil for frying (about 1/4 cup)

Combine whole wheat with 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and let sit for at least 6 hours. You can make extra wheat and store it in the fridge to use as a side dish or as a cereal. Measure out 2 cups of cooked whole wheat for this recipe.

In a food processor, blender or food mill, grind the wheat, potatoes, carrots, onions, corn, and radishes together until smooth. Stir in onion powder and garlic. Form into small balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Either heat the oil in a frying pan and fry balls until heated and browned, or place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned.

Note: For a Southwestern flavor, add 2 Tablespoons chopped chilies to the wheat mixture and garnish with salsa; serve with steamed tortillas and rice.

If whole wheat grain is not available, you can substitute bulgur bul·gur also bul·ghur  
Cracked wheat grains, often used in Middle Eastern dishes. Also called bulgur wheat.

[Ottoman Turkish bul
 and reduce the soaking time to 1 hour.

Total calories per serving fried: 161 Carbohydrates: 22 grams Sodium: 5 milligrams Fat: 7 grams Protein: 4 grams Fiber: 4 grams Total calories per serving baked: 101 Carbohydrates: 22 grams Sodium: 5 milligrams Fat: [is less than] 1 gram Protein: 4 grams Fiber: 4 grams


(Serves 5)

These crunchy, toasty toast·y  
adj. toast·i·er, toast·i·est
Pleasantly warm.
 balls (pictured on the front cover) also make good burgers. You have the option of frying or baking. Make a double batch and freeze one batch; this makes a great quick dinner. Just heat the tofu balls in tomato or mushroom sauce and serve with rice or pasta or in pita, tortillas, or rolls as a hot "neatball" sandwich.
2 cups drained and crumbled firm tofu
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup minced onions
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup water or 1/4 cup carrot juice
Oil for frying (about 1/8 cup)

In a large bowl mash tofu until almost smooth. Add all ingredients except water and combine until well mixed. Slowly add water or juice until mixture is thick enough to form balls.

Form into small balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Fry in oil until browned or bake (at 350 degrees) for 20 minutes, until heated and browned.

Total calories per serving fried: 290 Carbohydrates: 20 grams Sodium: 321 milligrams Fat: 16 grams Protein: 21 grams Fiber: 5 grams

Total calories per serving baked: 242 Carbohydrates: 20 grams Sodium: 321 milligrams Fat: 11 grams Protein: 21 grams Fiber: 5 grams


(Makes about 25 balls)

I couldn't resist putting in a sweet ball recipe. This requires no cooking, so whip up a batch while your other neatballs are baking.
1/2 pound chunky peanut butter (almond or
  soy butter can also be used)
1/3 cup ground cold cereal (such as corn or
  bran flakes)
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped raisins
1 Tablespoon chopped nuts (such as peanuts
  or walnuts)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Combine until stiff and well mixed. Roll into 25 small balls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: If desired, balls can be coated (by rolling) with sesame seeds, more chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, or more ground cereal.

Total calories per ball: 65 Carbohydrates: 4 grams Sodium: 49 milligrams High in calcium, iron, and zinc Fat: 5 grams Protein: 3 grams Fiber: 1 gram

Nancy Berkoff is a chef and VRG's Food Service Advisor.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Vegetarian Resource Group
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Berkoff, Nancy
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001

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