I love Italian food as much as the next person. However, I often find it tough adapting classic recipes to a diet that avoids animal products and gluten. Our meatball-in-red-sauce recipe manages pull of a moist and flavorful meatball that is both vegan and gluten-free.
The secret? Tempeh and quinoa puffs. The faux meat is comprised of tempeh, which is a close cousin to tofu (comprised of soy beans). Unlike tofu, tempeh is fermented with the entire bean. As a result, tempeh has a higher nutritional profile (protein, fiber, antioxidants, etc) and it can be used as a ground meat substitute. The faux breadcrumbs are made of gluten-free I Heart Keenwah quinoa puffs. I gravitate towards the herbes de provence flavor, which has a spice profile similar to Italian seasonings.
- Vegan Meat Balls -
1/2 packet of tempeh
2 cloves of garlic
1 3oz bag of I Heart Keenwah herbes de provence quinoa puffs
1 flax seed "egg" (1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 2.5 tbsp of water, mixed together separately)
- Red Sauce -
1/2 can (28 oz can) of crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
The vegan meatballs require a foodprocessor and mixing bowl. I hate cleaning the foodprocessor between ingredients, so I stage them in a logical way. Start with blending the quinoa puffs into fine bread crumbs. Set aside. Then add the shallot, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Pulse in until coarsely chopped. Set aside. Add tempeh and blend. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl add quinoa puffs, chopped shallot and garlic, pulsed tempeh, flax seed "egg", a pinch of salt, ground pepper and a 1 tspn of dried basil. Mix until smooth and paste-like. Then roll into 1 inch balls and set on parchment paper. I brush on some additional olive oil before the balls go into the oven. Bake on 375 for 20 minutes (turn the meatballs half way through cooking so that you get an even browning).
For the sauce, combine tomatoes, chopped garlic and shallot, olive oil in a pan. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Add salt, pepper and dried basil.
Once vegan meatballs are done baking, add them to sauce and gently coat them. Cook on low heat for additional 10 minutes. This last step will insure that the meatballs are not dry. Serve with additional dried basil.