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Spaghetti and TVP "Meatballs"

It turns out Grechen has decided that her "last meal", if ever faced with that, would be spaghetti and meatballs. And who doesn't like this stuff, really? So it goes without saying that a vegan version of this classic dish is a mandatory part of our recipe inventory. Instead of meat we use TVP (or Textured Vegetable Protein), which is truly some amazing stuff when it comes to health, nutrition, flavor, and texture. And instead of cheese to top it off, it's garnished with fresh parsley. Overall a pretty nice dish, whether you are vegan or not.

A couple of words of warning: first, this dish is not too easy to make (although the end result is quite rewarding to the palate); second, you will make a gargatuan mess in the kitchen manufacturing this thing, so plan on reserving ample time to clean up afterwards. Also, if you are concerned that Textured Vegetable Protein sounds too processed, don't be: it's just defatted soy flour! That's right, pretty much just soy beans ground down into flour with the fat removed. Totally natural, and very, very healthy.

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup marinara sauce

 

    • 8oz dry whole wheat spaghetti pasta, cooked and drained per package instructions

 

    • 3/4 cup cold water

 

    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

    • 2 tbsp tahini

 

    • 1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

 

    • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (dry)

 

    • 1/2 cup vegan breadcrumbs (e.g. panko)

 

    • 1 tsp salt

 

    • 1/2 tsp dry oregano

 

    • 1 tsp garlic powder

 

    • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

 

    • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (optionally use more parsley to garnish dish later)

 

    • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

 

    • 2-3 mushrooms, finely diced

Combine TVP with cold water in a large mixing bowl, stir it, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it absorbs most of the water. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, tahini, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, salt, oregano, garlic powder, fennel seeds, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, onion, and mushrooms, and mix thoroughly with a spatula until everything is well combined. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining 2tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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Press "meatball" mix firmly into small spheres about the size of golf balls. You won't be able to do this simply by rolling since there is not much in the mix that will bind the ingredients together. You should press the pieces firmly to drain liquids - I found that the denser "meatballs" held up better. Once formed, arrange "meatballs" onto baking sheet in a single layer. You should yield somewhere between 5 and 8 pieces from the mix. Once the oven is preheated, cook for 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and turn the "meatballs" over very carefully, taking care not to break them. Note that some of them may break anyway, even while they are cooking. Put the baking sheet back in the oven and continue to cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Finish by plating a portion of spaghetti, then 2-3 "meatballs", and a few spoonfulls of marinara sauce on top. Garnish with pieces of fresh parsley. This should serve 3-4 people, so keep this in mind when rationing the sauce.

I will keep trying to find a way to get the "meatballs" to hold together and post an update when I find it. If anyone has any ideas, let me know and I'll give that a shot. Obviously the perfect binder would be egg, but obviously that's not an option in vegan cuisine. I also prefer to keep whatever I use to bind as natural as possible, and not processed. I actually got about half the meatballs to hold up until I served them, so I'll consider that not too bad for the first attempt.

Enjoy!

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Posted in Real Estate Post Date 01/18/2016


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