Saturday, March 13, 2010

Neat Balls

I spent the afternoon putting together the menu for my Great American Meatout cooking class and dinner coming up soon on March 20.  This is my favorite time of year for veggies, and I really want to do them all justice... leeks, asparagus, greens, wild garlic chives.  And then there's the maple syrup.  mmmm... hopefully there'll be some available in Connecticut sugarhouses by next weekend.  It would make the perfect dessert.

Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival HandbookToday I was testing the entree, Carol Adams' recipe for Baked Walnut Balls in Bechamel which I've had my eye on for about 5 years.  I decided to make it gluten-free so I could indulge, and I'm glad I did because it was hard to stop at just 3.  Then 4.  Then 5.  Oh, who's counting?  The recipe is from her fabulous cookbook, Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook, which every vegan should have in their library.  Really, it made all the difference for me during those first two formative years as a vegan.

This is a recipe that she, too, has modified over the years.  It was first introduced to her in 1978 when the caterer at her wedding created Baked Walnut and Cheddar Balls Bechamel from Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure Book Two (Book 2) as the main course.  Since then, she discovered a recipe reminiscent of the original called Walnut Balls with Tofu Lemon Cream Sauce from Reggi Norton and Martha Wagner's Soy of Cooking: A Tofu and Tempeh Recipe Book, minus the dairy and eggs.  I used corn meal in place of wheat germ, gluten-free bread crumbs, and brown rice flour instead of whole wheat.  These were delicious, as I'm sure hers were.  In fact, they're just the right texture that I surmise they'd hold up well in a marinara sauce with spaghetti or even in a vegan sub smothered in melted Daiya cheese.  I made a big batch of 2 dozen, then froze them in a zip-lock bag for a quick "go to" meal when I'm too busy to cook.  I think I'll have to make myself busy this week. 

First, toast 1 1/2 cups of walnuts in the oven, then grind them in a food processor.  Combine with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup corn meal (or wheat germ, if you're not gluten-free), 3 Tbl chopped fresh parsley and 1/2 cup minced onion.  Note:  Even after this step, my kitchen was already smelling like an Italian restaurant.

Next, puree in a food processor 6 oz. silken tofu, 1/4 cup plain rice or soy milk, 1 Tbl tamari, 1/4 cup brown rice flour (or regular flour), 3 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, and some fresh ground pepper.

You may need to scrape the sides with a spatula a couple times to be sure it all gets in there.  Combine the two mixtures together and stir until everything is evenly distributed. 

The mixture should be moist, but still able to hold its shape.  Spoon into tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. 

Place balls on oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bottoms have browned.

These were delicious on a bed of steamed kale and drizzled with Bechamel Sauce.  I even liked them with a squeeze of ketchup.  Yum!


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try your "Neat Balls". I have to go grocery shopping because I don't have any silken tofu in the house. I wonder, is there something I can substitute?

Mary Lawrence said...

I think you'll like them. They remind me of the meatballs my mom makes! I've only used silken tofu, though I suppose any tofu would work since it all gets pureed in the food processor.