It seemed at first like an easy fallback. Pasta, sure, that's pretty much what I eat all the time. But I wanted to make something special for the occasion. I was thinking maybe spinach lasagna, which would've been perfectly awesome on a cold evening. However, I decided to do a little twist on that, so to speak: How about Rollatini? And to challenge myself even further, I wanted to make it entirely gluten-free and soy-free. This meant working with super delicate and finnicky rice noodles, and no tofu. More on that later.
I also wanted to bulk up the meal with some meatballs, sans meat, of course. And even though there are a gazillion vegan meatball recipes out there, most of them are made with wheat gluten, bread crumbs, and some type of crumbled soy product. I wanted none of that! I was determined to come up with a recipe that was not only vegan, gluten-free, AND soy-free, but that was made with no processed foods AND which held together in tomato sauce AND was quick and easy to make.
This recipe requires a food processor, and the ingredient list is somewhat extensive, but the mixture comes together in no time at all... well, maybe 10 minutes. Then you just roll them into balls, place on an oiled and lined baking sheet, pop them in the oven, and they'll be ready to eat by the time you've assembled your rollatini!
Gluten-free Soy-Free Neatballs
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs (I used Ian's Natural Foods)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp dried oregano1 tsp dried basil
3 Tbl fresh parsley
1/2 cup minced onion
1 Tbl coconut aminos (this takes the place of tamari or soy sauce)
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, toast walnuts on medium heat until fragrant. Place walnuts in food processor and pulse until a fine crumb consistency is achieved. Place in large bowl and combine with breadcrumbs, flour, oregano, and basil. Place remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse together until everything is finely chopped and beginning to clump together as the mushrooms and onion release their liquid. Be careful not to over-process into a paste! There should still be some texture to the onions and mushrooms. Combine these ingredients with the walnut mixture and stir together until everything is blended. If mixture is too wet, add a little more flour.
This is what it should look like after mixing.
Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. This makes roughly 2 dozen, depending on the size. Place meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet coated with oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until browned underneath, then flip over and bake another 5-10 minutes.
When finished, these will be firm on the outside and tender on the inside. They can be placed in a simmering pot of marinara as they hold together well in sauce. Alternatively, meatballs can be frozen "as is" in a ziplock bag then popped into a microwave for quick heating later or dropped into tomato sauce. Even my meat-eating dad said these were yummy! My mom said you'd never know they were vegan. Well... kinda. The flavor profile is reminiscent of the original, but there's none of that greasy heaviness, just pure deliciousness. Enjoy!