GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD

GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!
Name a more comforting pairing than hearty vegan mushroom meatballs swimming in warm marinara and GARLIC BREAD. You just can’t! I love vegan meatballs with pasta, sure, but garlic bread will always be my preferred carb choice if there’s red sauce involved. I like a nice little bowl with the meatballs swimming in warm marinara, and a little bread-y pyramid of the crunchy golden garlic bread on a separate plate. So. Much. Dipping. It’s like the edible version of your favourite cozy winter blanket that you’ll want to snuggle in forever.

I’m so proud of these meatballs too! Of course they’re vegan and made entirely out of whole foods. They’re also naturally gluten-free and just delicious. They have a deep flavour from sautéed mushrooms and onions (but somehow they don’t taste “mushroom-y”), tamari, garlic, nutritional yeast, balsamic, and a little tiny splash of liquid smoke. My friend Timmy got me hooked on the stuff after I made the rice and beans from his book. Obviously it’s smoky, but in very small amounts, it just adds a great depth of flavour. The body of the meatballs is made up of toasted pecans and just basic rolled oats. I use a magical ground chia seed “egg” to make everything stick together and it works like a charm. Chia seeds, pecans, and oats in a meatball?! You bet. They’re seriously savoury and pleasantly filling. My man isn’t really a mushroom guy  and he LOVED them.

I include the recipe for garlic bread and a cashew “parm” sprinkle here too. I like 100% olive oil garlic bread, but I also include appropriate instructions if you’re down with vegan butter. I know that this recipe looks so long, but the steps are very simple. The food processor does a lot of the work. If you’ve made homemade veggie burger patties before, I’m fairly confident that this recipe will be a breeze for you. Also we skip making homemade marinara because *truth bomb* I almost ALWAYS buy it. I have zero shame about this.

Hope you enjoy this one! It’s a perfect winter warmer to enjoy on a Friday night, maybe with a bottle of wine (or an ice cold sparkling water)? 😉 Let me know what other cozy comfort foods are keeping you warm this Winter in the comments. And if you’re doing #Veganuary, let me know how that’s going too! Here to help with that one in any way I can. Sending my love, always!

GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipespin it!
GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 4 (2 balls each)
NOTES: I find the mushroom flavour goes undetected in these (so did my mushroom-despising partner).
-You could use walnut halves if you don’t have pecans. Not super confident on a nut-free option here unfortunately! 
-I love using the liquid smoke for extra depth of flavour, not necessarily an outright smokiness. You could use ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika instead if you like.
-You need a food processor for the “parm” and 2 stages of the meatballs. No need to wash it between steps.
-I sprinkle the cashew “parm” on the meatballs and the garlic bread as soon as it gets out of the oven. Yum!
-If you like and have vegan butter on hand, you could do a half and half mix of olive oil and butter for the garlic bread. 2 tablespoons of each!
-I have a great eggplant meatball recipe here if you need another alternative meatball option ;)
-I just ask for “warm marinara” in the ingredients because I didn’t want to add to this already quite long recipe. I generally buy mine for what it’s worth! Rao’s is my brand of choice. And there’s tons of recipes for homemade sauce online if you need one.

CASHEW “PARM”
¾ cup raw cashews
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
½ teaspoon garlic powder

MEATBALLS
1 tablespoon ground chia or flax seeds
3 tablespoons filtered water
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
¾ cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra
1 small yellow onion, small dice (about ¾ cup diced onion)
8 oz (226 grams) button or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon gluten-free tamari soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
⅓ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus extra
warm marinara, for serving (SEE headnote)

GARLIC BREAD
1 ciabatta baguette
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced (preferably grated on a Microplane)
sea salt, to taste
chili flakes, to taste (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Make the parmesan: In a food processor or the dry blade container of a high speed blender, combine the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, lemon zest, and garlic powder. Pulse until you have a finely ground mixture that tastes lightly salty and cheesy. Set aside.

Make the meatballs: In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and water. Let it gel for a few minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the toasted pecan halves and oats. Pulse the mixture until you have a coarse meal. Transfer the pecan and oat mixture to a medium mixing bowl and place the food processor bowl back on the base.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. Add the onions and stir. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir. Season with pepper. Stir and sauté until mushrooms are tender and glistening, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Season the mixture with salt and stir once more.

Turn off the heat and transfer the mushroom mixture to the food processor. Let it cool slightly. Then, pulse until you have a chunky consistency that’s almost a paste. It should stick together, but you should still see little pieces of mushroom. Transfer the minced up mushroom mixture to the mixing bowl with the pecans and oats.

To the mushroom and pecan mixture, add the nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, tamari soy sauce, red pepper flakes, onion powder, liquid smoke, parsley, and a good amount of salt and pepper. Add the chia gel into the mixing bowl as well. Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix everything until you have a sticky and slightly chunky paste. Give it a taste to check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and roll into balls. Place vegan mushroom meatballs on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the surface of the balls with olive oil. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until balls are firm on the outside and browned on the bottom.

While the vegan mushroom meatballs are baking, heat your marinara in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Once the meatballs are done baking, transfer them to the warm marinara and let them heat together.

Make the garlic bread: Slice the ciabatta baguette in half as if you were making a big sandwich. In a small saucepan, gently heat the olive oil over medium low. Add the finely minced garlic to the oil, along with the salt and chili flakes (if using). The garlic should simmer ever so slightly. Let it cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Take the garlic oil off the heat and stir in the parsley.

Preheat the broiler of your oven. Place the halved ciabatta on a baking sheet, cut side up (cut the halves in half to fit on the baking sheet if necessary). Brush the ciabatta with the garlic olive oil mixture all the way to the edges. Slide the baking sheet into the oven under the broiler. Broil until the edges of the ciabatta are quite brown and toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it though! Remove the garlic bread from the oven and cut into smaller pieces.

Serve the vegan mushroom meatballs in the warm marinara with chopped parsley on top, and with the garlic bread and cashew “parm” on the side. Enjoy!

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  • Cathy16/01/2019 - 6:49 pm

    Laura,
    For what it’s worth as I am not really a social media kind of gal, I ADORE YOU and your recipes and cannot live without them!! Well, that is stretching it a bit… I cook vegan food for my employer (chiropractor) once a week and usually have at least one of your recipes on board. So, basically, you get all the credit and I wanted to say Thank you for what you do!!
    I hope your 2019 is prosperous and peaceful.

    Thank you again and again,
    CathyReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2019 - 8:01 am

      Thank you so much for this note, Cathy! I’m so happy that you’re enjoying the recipes regularly. Sending all my best to you for 2019 :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Ashley16/01/2019 - 7:29 pm

    You are my go to for comfort food. First, I made my first ever successful vegan cinnamon rolls on Christmas. Then this week, I make bomb bbq cauliflower salad. And now this?! I can’t wait to give it a try!ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2019 - 8:02 am

      I”m definitely on a bit of a comfort food tear right now hehe. So glad that you’re enjoying it though, Ashley! :)ReplyCancel

  • cindy17/01/2019 - 1:49 pm

    I am so making this!!! I just bought your cookbook and have bookmarked about half of it to make. I’m so impressed with your creativity, photography, energy and writing. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years now and have fallen into a routine with the things I make. I didn’t even think I could go vegan because I love yogurt and cheese but, with your amazing recipes, I think I can mostly do it. Thank you for doing this. I ready your story. Sometimes all it takes is a little push from someone and bam, you’re off on an adventure that is life changing for both yourself and everyone you touch.
    People – buy the cookbook – it’s amazing!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2019 - 8:03 am

      Thank you for this kind comment, Cindy! And thanks so much for getting the book as well. I really appreciate the support :D
      -LReplyCancel

  • sofia17/01/2019 - 3:08 pm

    hi hello! love this. can you use almond flour instead of oats?ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2019 - 7:59 am

      I think the meatballs would be too dense if you substituted almond flour unfortunately. Might be best to seek out a recipe on a dedicated grain-free cooking site.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Mary17/01/2019 - 10:06 pm

    I made these for dinner tonight, served them with linguine. They were delicious! Am not a fan of fake cheese but the part was a hit. Thank you for a great keeper recipe.ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/01/2019 - 8:04 am

      I usually can’t stand faux/vegan cheeses either, but a little homemade “parmesan” style sprinkle I can get behind. Basically salty sprinkles :) So glad you enjoyed this recipe!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Friday Faves | foodiecrush18/01/2019 - 8:00 am

    […] giant vegan mushroom meatless balls […]ReplyCancel

  • Nikola18/01/2019 - 10:30 am

    This looks AMAZING. I usually put oats in everything, but making these meatballs with mushrooms is a brand new idea I have to try now! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura20/01/2019 - 11:23 am

      The oats make them soooo filling (but also light-textured at the same time) :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Danielle18/01/2019 - 10:29 pm

    I have a batch of the meatballs baking right now, and they smell amazing! If you were going to batch cook and freeze the meatballs, would you freeze them before or after baking?ReplyCancel

    • Laura20/01/2019 - 11:23 am

      Hi Danielle! Sorry for the delayed response. I think I would freeze these after baking.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Bryan20/01/2019 - 2:32 am

    These meatballs look soooo good! I really need to make this recipe now thank you!ReplyCancel

  • JS20/01/2019 - 11:24 pm

    Made these tonight. So good – thanks for another amazing idea!!ReplyCancel

  • Sherryn Adair21/01/2019 - 2:17 am

    I love every single recipe I’ve made from your cookbook; your way of making layered flavor and textures is what hooked me. I have a question about this recipe: what is the second 3T of [filtered] water for in the meatball ingredient list? I ask because I had my mise en place and never used the water. Then, the meatballs came out very crumbly, not moist at all. Should I have added that second amount of water to the final mixture?ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/01/2019 - 9:28 am

      Hi Sherryn,
      Thank you for this note. The second note of filtered water was an error on my part, and for that I’m very sorry. It’s been fixed! But if you made the meatballs with just the one addition of water (added to the ground chia/flax at the beginning), you still should not have had crumbly and dry meatballs. I’m wondering what happened here. Did you make any changes at all? I found these to be somewhat moist in my tests and I haven’t received any other feedback describing them as dry, so I am concerned and curious as to what went wrong.
      -LReplyCancel

      • Sherryn Adair24/01/2019 - 4:06 pm

        I was perplexed, too. No changes – perhaps altitude? I’m at 3600 ft but can’t imagine that it would have that much of an effect. They *are* delicious with the marinara which adds moisture. Thank you for your reply. I’ll try again, and maybe tinker with adding some more moisture. xoxoxReplyCancel

  • Anna21/01/2019 - 7:51 am

    Dear Laura,

    these mushroom meatballs look so divine. I want to try these. Can I use anything else instead of oats? Or are they important for the texture?
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
    Warm regards, AnnaReplyCancel

    • Laura21/01/2019 - 10:48 am

      Hi Anna,
      The oats are binding, they lighten the mixture, and they also make up a bulk of the meatball matter. I think you could get away with using any other flaked grain (like quinoa, kamut or spelt if you don’t need these to be GF). Or even a mix of 1/2 cup cooked and cooled brown rice with 1/2 cup chickpea flour could work. Let me know if you try any of these and if they work out for you.
      -LReplyCancel

      • Anna23/01/2019 - 6:06 am

        Hi Laura,
        thank you for your fast reply. I made these big mushroom balls today and they are so amazing. Love them. Used puffed quinoa instead of oats and it worked well. Mixed them until I got a fine quinoa meal and yes what should I say absolutely delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Laura B.21/01/2019 - 7:09 pm

    Made these for dinner tonite for a Vegan (me!), a Vegetarian, and 2 light meat eaters. Everybody adored it! So Delish!ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/01/2019 - 9:22 am

      So happy that everyone at the table enjoyed them :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Stephanie22/01/2019 - 12:18 am

    Absolutely love this recipe. Thank you! Can’t wait to try others!ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/01/2019 - 9:21 am

      So happy that you enjoyed it, Stephanie!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Emma Oanes22/01/2019 - 5:03 pm

    I made these for supper the other night and they were so delicious! This recipe is a keeper for sure. My partner (who usually does not care for mushrooms) loved them as well. Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa J22/01/2019 - 10:42 pm

    Laura. Wow, I am just in awe of your recipe index. Literally, I love making similar foods but your recipes make my mouth water. Truly inspiring me! Everything I’ve made from you has never disappointed me.
    I just want to say, I am obsessed and feel like this is a fan girl moment for me. haha ;)

    Keep thriving my friend! Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • […] I make no secret of the fact that I am the only vegetarian in my house.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the kid’s favorite meal (I’m talking desert island favorite) is the meat version of this next dish.  I can’t tell you how happy it made me to find a veg-friendly recipe for this family favorite.  I’m totally making it Sunday night for dinner. The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Helen23/01/2019 - 9:01 am

    “Add the *chia gel* into the mixing bowl as well”

    The ingredients call for ground chia or flax seeds — is that the gel? Or did I miss a step in the recipe?ReplyCancel

  • Helen23/01/2019 - 9:04 am

    please disregard my previous inquiry (insert embarrassed emoji) regarding chia gel.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/01/2019 - 9:19 am

      No need to be embarrassed! It happens :) Glad you got it all sorted.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Aleksandra Žarak25/01/2019 - 10:17 am

    Wow, just made this, my hubby claims nobody normal would detect there was no meatbin it. People usually frown when they hear we are vegans, I will play a practical joke haha, will tell them I have a butcher that has this special veal….hahaha. Joking aside, it is probably among the top 10 dishes I have tried. Keep up the good work girl! So yummy!ReplyCancel

  • Kara26/01/2019 - 11:25 am

    I only made the “meatballs” and dang they were delicious. I really loved the oat and toasted nut meal. This is the first time I’ve found a blog recipe through Pinterest in which i also really like your blog and plan to buy your cookbook. Love the recipes ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Rachel26/01/2019 - 2:51 pm

    I made the meatballs and garlic bread and homemade marinara to great success last weekend. It was a bit of a production but so so worth it. I love the texture and flavor of the meatballs — the best vegan/vegetarian recipe for them I’ve ever tried. The garlic bread was a great treat too. I doubled the recipe and served the leftover meatballs and sauce over brown rice spaghetti for a slightly less decadent meal the rest of the week.ReplyCancel

  • LaDonne Oaldon27/01/2019 - 11:49 am

    is there a substitute for the mushrooms? I have Candida & I cannot eat them. More oats? More pecans/walnuts? Not sure. They sound delicious!ReplyCancel

    • Laura28/01/2019 - 8:38 am

      My go-to substitution for the mushrooms would be some sautéed and seasoned diced eggplant. Other substitutions that I think would work: cooked beans and crumbled tofu. Although with those other two, you would definitely have to increase your level of seasoning.
      -LReplyCancel

      • Malachi13/07/2019 - 7:39 pm

        I have to say thank you for this recipe, I love it! This is my go to meatball recipe (I make them half sized though). Made it several times now. The toasted pecans bring the perfect rich, meaty flavor and really put this recipe over the top. With that being said, I wanted to make these for dinner but didn’t want to use mushrooms since I’d just made a couple dishes with mushrooms. I saw your eggplant meatball recipe (which I definitely want to try sometime) but I really wanted the pecan flavor. So I decided to keep everything the same but instead of mushrooms, I used eggplant. I was a little worried they might turn out mushy or not hold together but I was pleasantly surprised. They came out AMAZING!!! Paired it up with some homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti and it was delicious! Eggplant is definitely an excellent substitute is you don’t like mushroom or are allergic.ReplyCancel

  • Lauracatherine28/01/2019 - 2:09 pm

    So good! I just made this for my family. We are not vegan nor vegitarian but i do enjoy meatless meals frequently through the week. This will be repeates, especially since my husband raved about it and asked for seconds.
    The only changes i made were based on what i had available. I used worcestershire sauce instead of balsamic and used poltery seasoning…i have no paprica nor liquid smoke. I also kept the stems on the mushrooms.
    Everything was delicious. Great recipetReplyCancel

  • […] Top with avocado, kale, cornbread (see below), and vegan parm (I love this recipe.) […]ReplyCancel

  • Rhona31/01/2019 - 10:04 am

    Hi, these look delicious and i’m going to try them tomorrow.I imagine they could be made up in advance &kept in the fridge til ready to bake.Has anyone done this please?ReplyCancel

  • Noelle Kaplan31/01/2019 - 11:58 pm

    Wow! These were a HUGE hit with my wife who is a meatball purist (meaning meatballs should always contain meat in her mind). Thank you for these wonderfully flavored creations – I think we’re going to try them as veggie burgers next!ReplyCancel

  • Katie01/02/2019 - 10:54 am

    We made these last weekend and doubled the recipe, thinking the frozen balls would be great to thaw for my 14-month old. Well.. we ended up thawing most of them and eating them up! These are SO GOOD. I haven’t eaten a “real” meatball in about 20 years, so I don’t have anything to compare them to, but these had the perfect texture. We served them with quick homemade tomato sauce (crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil simmered while the pasta cooked) and I just loved it. We’re thinking of crumbling them up to make a lasagna “bolognese,” making them into a meatball sub with cheese… so many options. It’s on our list of family favorites. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Karen C.03/02/2019 - 3:41 pm

    Thank you for this delicious recipe. My husband (meat eating) and I (28 years plant based) both loved the mushroom balls. Extremely satisfying for dinner and then rewarmed for another meal. Next time I will dbl the recipe to store some in the freezer. The garlic bread and Rao’s marinara sauce are perfect accompaniments. Bravo!!ReplyCancel

  • Cassie Thuvan Tran04/02/2019 - 5:27 pm

    Don’t give me the spaghetti noodles. I want the bread and the meatballs. I can just make some kind of meatball toast or subway sandwich, LOL! But in all honesty, this is such a lovely way to cook up a romantic and comforting Valentine’s Day dish!ReplyCancel

  • Azriel13/02/2019 - 6:33 pm

    I didn’t have any pecans…or any nuts, for that matter, so I substituted the 1cup of nuts for 1cup of seitan ground beef (my recipe). I followed the rest of your ingredients and directions and the dish was DELICIOUS!!! I might cut back on the pepper flakes next time due to my partner (he can’t handle heat…at all ). Besides that, this will be a staple meal in the house. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Janel Barthe20/02/2019 - 12:36 pm

    I am definitely going to make these meatballs…I seem to have a craving for them lately. My question is about oatmeal. Not sure what differences are between steel cut oats and rolled oats. Please clear this up for me.ReplyCancel

  • […] with this cozy shiitake tortilla soup. What’s with me and mushroom recipes lately? See these meatballs and this epic bolognese. Guess it’s just a Winter craving kinda thing! This is that point in […]ReplyCancel

  • Sue21/03/2019 - 12:40 pm

    Hi Laura. I agree with all the other accolades ; these are wonderful. I love all the ingredients. These were also inhaled by the meat-eaters!! Thank you, thank you, thank you ReplyCancel

  • Amy Discenz31/03/2019 - 4:18 pm

    These meatballs are just so darn delicious. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Staci18/04/2019 - 4:37 pm

    Aloha Laura! Tthoughts on using pine nuts instead of pecans/walnuts? I’d probably dial the amount back due to their strong flavor. Have you tried them in this recipe? Your immunity soup has been a lifesaver in our house. Best, StaciReplyCancel

    • Laura19/04/2019 - 11:48 am

      Hi Staci,
      I haven’t tried pine nuts in this recipe, but I think they would be great. I think you could get away with using less of them and still having that good texture in the meatball. Let me know how it all works out if you try.
      -LReplyCancel

  • ajay rana01/06/2019 - 7:38 am

    wow so delicious recipe, and mouthwatering really i like it surely i’ll try this at home, thanks for sharing this recipeReplyCancel

  • […] Giant Vegan Mushroom Meatballs & Garlic Bread […]ReplyCancel

  • Vlada23/07/2019 - 7:20 am

    These meatballs look soooo good!ReplyCancel

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