Saturday, August 17, 2019


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Neatballs in sour cherry sauce

Neatball Pho containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned and simmered in the Pho broth.
Neatballs coated with a curry sauce
This is a vegan "meatball" recipe that I developed over 10 years ago (yikes!) and meant many times to share on this blog, but, somehow, never got around to!  The recipe was originally supposed to be included in one of my books, but that never happened.

I love "meatballs", not only because they taste good and are so versatile, but also because so many cuisines boast at least one, and often dozens, of delicious recipes featuring them.  Real comfort food, the world over!

You can make several times the recipe at one time and freeze them for future meals. One time I was very ambitious and made 150 Neatballs in one morning! Here are some photos:

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5 
 Yield: 25 neatballs

These Neatballs, when removed from the oven, resemble rather dry, round cookies. However, when they are simmered in broth, or in a sauce of your choice, they plump up and have a texture almost alarmingly meatlike! 

You can add whatever appropriate spices and herbs that would go with the final dish you are making, or just make the basic version. The recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.,  if you would like to freeze some for a later date. Serve with pasta, rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc., or bread.

Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups textured soy protein granules (TVP)
3/4 cup pure gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (not dried), packed down
1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
herbs and spices, to your taste
Wet Mix:
1 1/4 cups plus 3 T. cold water
3 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 Tbs ketchup
1/2 T. vegan gravy browner, such as Kitchen Bouquet (for color)
Flour for coating
Cooking spray or oil in a pump-sprayer
Optionals: For ethnic recipes, you can add some chopped vegetables (well-drained or squeezed, if very wet), grated ginger, fresh garlic, vegan parmesan, chopped green onion,

Mix together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk the Wet Mix ingredients together and pour into the Dry Mix, adding whatever optionals you like. Cover and let the mixture set for at least one hour. If made ahead, the mixture can be refrigerated for several hours or days before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Roll the mixture into 25 equal-sized balls, squeezing firmly. As you can see in the photo below, you can also shape the Neatball mixture into oval "kofta" shapes for Middle Eastern recipes. Dredge in flour to coat all over. 

Place the balls on an oiled cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or oil from a pump-sprayer. Bake 20 minutes-- smaller neatballs may need only 15 minutes cooking time. 

The "Neatballs" will look quite dry, as I mentioned, but this is their advantage-- when cooked in a sauce, they become plump and tender, but don't fall apart. Cool thoroughly.
They can be frozen  at this point and then cooked in a sauce or soup at a later time, if you wish.  

To cook the dry, baked Neatballs in a sauce:
Drop them into a pot containing about 5 cups of your preferred sauce (commercial or homemade-- homemade should be fully-cooked), mixed with 2 cups of water and brought to a simmer. If necessary, add a little more liquid to the sauce, in the form of wine, broth or juice. Simmer them for at least 20 minutes, during which time the Neatballs will "plump up". 

OR, if you are planning to use them later in recipes 
coated in a sauce, or to use them in a soup, cook them in a pot containing simmering vegan broth of your choice to cover. 

If they have been simmered in broth for future recipes, remove the Neatballs from the pot with a strainer spoon, rinse them off gently, and let them cool thoroughly. They can then be frozen. Otherwise, add them directly to a soup, or  browned in a bit of oil and coated  with a sauce of your choice, such as a curry sauce.

Baked, simmered (in broth) and cooled Neatballs that have been browned.

My Version of Italian "Wedding Soup" ("Minestra Maritata" or "Zuppa Maritata"), containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned before simmering in the soup.
Try this delicious Vietnamese Pho recipe, using Neatballs instead of the vegan "steak":

Nutrition Facts (calculated using low sodium soy sauce and ketchup)
Nutrition (per serving; 5 Neatballs): 
195.6 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 404.9mg sodium; 86.3mg potassium; 19.7g carbohydrates; 0.7g fiber; 1.9g sugar; 27.4g protein.