It's rare for Westley to eat dinner with Rob and me these days. I always offer him some of what I've made, but he almost always says he's not hungry. Sometimes he'll ask for a bedtime snack—he can have any fruit or any vegetable we have in the house—and sometimes he'll save his appetite for breakfast.
I like to let people be in charge of their own stomachs as much as possible, but I miss having Westley at the dinner table with us. When I asked him to help me plan dinner recently, he requested spaghetti and meatballs. Easy, I thought. I might even get him to eat some beans this way! (I honestly do not remember the last time my child willingly and knowingly ate a bean. And they used to be among his favorite foods!)
I always want to call vegan meatballs "meatless balls," which sounds just awful. I've heard them called "neatballs," which is just too...no. Calling them beanballs isn't much better, but at least it's accurate. I get points for accuracy, right?
This recipe was inspired by the Spaghetti and Beanballs recipe in Veganomicon. I've changed enough ingredients that it's practically a new recipe, but I like to give credit where credit is due. And when something awesome comes out of my kitchen (spoiler alert: these were awesome), Isa Chandra Moskowitz was probably involved on some level.
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tbsp coconut aminos, or gluten-free tamari
2 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/3 cup marinara sauce
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Mash black beans and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl until everything is good and mashed, but still recognizable as beans.
Add the coconut aminos, ketchup, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, quinoa, tapioca flour, gluten-free all-purpose flour, oregano, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix everything up really well (you might want to use your hands for this). Roll the mixture into scant tablespoon-size balls. A cookie scoop is ideal for this. Err on the small side, as smaller yields a better proportion of crispy outside to smooth inside.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, add your beanballs, and drizzle a little more oil over them. These things will absorb oil like little sponges, so if you're concerned about them being too fatty, use a spray bottle of oil for this step. Bake 15 minutes, flip them carefully, and bake 15 minutes more.
When the beanballs are nicely browned, remove them from the oven and pour 1/3 cup of marinara sauce over them. Flip them around so they're basically coated, and bake another 5 minutes. Serve with pasta (Westley's favorite is "long noodles") and marinara.
Rob and I absolutely adored these. Unfortunately, Westley was not impressed. He told me that they looked all right, but they didn't taste "normal." (He's a fan of Nate's Meatless Meatballs. I'd hoped to win him over with beans, but I can't say I'm surprised.) Fortunately, the leftover beanballs were delicious in salad the next day.