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
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.
¾ cup raw cashews
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
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)
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!