These lemony oregano vegan meatballs are so versatile. Equally great with pasta and marinara, on top of hummus with a drizzle of tahini sauce, or even in a grain bowl setup. Easy to make and naturally gluten-free!
One of my readers sent an email, challenging me to come up with a vegan meatball recipe that doesn’t have mushrooms. If it’s a meatball challenge, I’m happily accepting! Of course if you love mushrooms in your plant-based iteration of this classic comfort food, you really need to click over to my Giant Vegan Mushroom Meatballs recipe. I also have a recipe for Eggplant Meatballs with Za’atar & Kale Pesto.
These lemony oregano vegan meatballs are incredibly flavourful. They have a great mix of chopped fresh herbs, garlic, and chili as the main flavour notes. I went with a hearty base of white beans, rolled oats, and walnuts. I like to drain and pat dry the white beans to avoid too much moisture in the resulting dish. You could eat these a bunch of different ways! Simple with marinara sauce and pasta. Nestled into a grain bowl with some roasted vegetables alongside. Or plated up with hummus, tahini sauce and a simple salad as I’ve done here.
The inspiration for plating the meatballs like I have in the photos came by way of Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s Falastin cookbook. This is truly one of my favourite cookbooks. The hummus recipe in the first chapter of the book shows two toppings: meatballs and fried eggplant. I’ve made the version with fried eggplant and it was incredible. The meatball version is rooted in traditional kofta with meat as the base. So I won’t be trying the precise version from the book (because meat haha). But the inspiration to recreate it in my own way felt like just the thing.
Some fun, supplemental reading here if you like: This article from The Atlantic traces the meatball origin to kofta. “The most likely candidate for the original meatball seems to be kofta… They likely traveled from the Arab world along trade routes to Greece, North Africa, and Spain.” Lots of interesting little bits of information on how meatballs are served around the world in this piece. I also love the author’s observation that meatballs represent home and family time.
If you’re looking for a vegan version of kofta, I would definitely check out the recipes from One Arab Vegan and Hanady Kitchen. Both look amazing! There’s also a beautiful vegan kofta recipe with chickpeas, quinoa and potatoes in The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook, another one that I absolutely love.
So, inspired by the plating in Falastin, I give you this platter of goodness. A swoop of hummus, the lemony oregano meatballs, a drizzle of tahini sauce, and a simple salad on the side. As I mention near the top though, these meatballs are delicious in a variety of ways. I hope that you get a chance to try them, and that you’re having a good week so far. :)
Vegan Lemony Oregano Meatballs
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
- 1 small yellow onion, small dice (about ¾ cup diced onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon ground chilies or crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup walnut halves
- ¾ cup rolled oats (certified GF if necessary)
- 1 ½ cups cooked white beans, drained, rinsed, and toweled off (1 15oz can of white beans)
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the ground flax and water. Give it a stir and let it sit for at least 5 minutes to “gel.”
- Set a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the diced onions to the pan and stir. Sauté the onions until slightly soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano to the pan and sauté for another minute. Finally, add the nutritional yeast, chili, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour in their lemon juice and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Take the sauté pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, place the walnut halves and the oats. Pulse the walnuts and oats until you have a coarse meal. Transfer the meal to a large bowl.
- Place the bowl of the food processor back on the motor base. Add the white beans to the food processor and pulse until they are ground up with a little bit of chunky bean bits still in the mix. Transfer the ground white beans to the large bowl with the ground walnuts and oats.
- To the large bowl, add the flax gel mixture, sautéed onion and garlic mixture, tamari, lemon zest, parsley, dill, and big pinches of salt and pepper. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Pinch off a bit of the mixture and give it a taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Measure out 2 tablespoons of the white bean and walnut mixture per meatball and roll it into a ball. Once you’ve rolled out all of the mixture, place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet. Lightly brush all of the meatballs with olive oil and then slide the baking sheet into the oven.
- Bake the meatballs for 25 minutes, or until the tops have dried out a bit, the meatballs are firm, and the bottoms are browned. Serve the meatballs with pasta, on a platter with hummus and tahini sauce, or even in a grain bowl setup!
- Make sure that your white beans are nice and dry before you pulse them up in the food processor. This helps maintain a nice, non-soggy final texture with the meatball.
- My plating and serving here was inspired by the meatball-topped hummus recipe in Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley.