This weekend at a birthday party my four-year-old, Vance, stood before a large table stacked full of pizza boxes opening every lid trying to find the one special piece that interested him. I watched from a few feet away as a young man came beside him and offered to help. The guy began to grab a slice of pepperoni pizza to place on Vance’s wildly colored birthday plate, when Vance shook his head in refusal.
“Can I tell you something?” he asked the man, with his lisp that makes “s” sound like “th.” He continued without waiting for a reply, “Pepperoni tastes good, but they kill animals to make it. I want cheese, please.”
My husband’s and my love for documentaries has pushed us off the fence post of apathy into the greener pastures of vegetarianism. For ethical reasons we have decided to no longer eat meat. As passionate as we are about our new lifestyle, we feel that it is our conviction, not our children’s. We want them to come to their own decision about their eating choices. We have told the kids that when we go to the homes of others, they are more than welcome to make the choice to eat meat. For the most part our children have refrained. Our palates are gradually adjusting, but sometimes we miss our favorite menus of the past. Below is a delicious recipe that allows us to enjoy spaghetti and meatballs, and my favorite, meatball subs, without compromising our beliefs.
Fake Meatballs, a.k.a., Nutballs
- 4 eggs
- 1 envelope onion soup mix
- 2 c. cheddar cheese or cheddar-Monterey blend
- 3/4 c. walnuts
- 1 c. Italian-style breadcrumbs
First things first, turn on your oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.
Then, pulse walnuts in a food processor or blender until very fine. (Our first time making these I didn’t blend them finely and there were some rather large hunks. The consensus was that no one like large nut chunks in their fake meatballs and the children began calling them nutballs.)
Place walnuts, along with all the other ingredients into a mixer on medium speed until well combined.
Shape into balls that are about 1″ in size and place on your cookie sheet, making sure they don’t touch. If the mixture is too sticky, you can allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before making the balls. (With six kids, sticky doesn’t scare me, so I press on.) This recipe makes approximately 30 fake meatballs.
Bake for 20 minutes.
If you want to freeze your fake meatballs, now is the time to do it. Place them on a tray and then into the freezer. After they are frozen, you can transfer them to a bag to reduce storage space and stop them from freezing in one large clump. This recipe can very easily be doubled for all of you who prepare freezer meals or do monthly cooking.
Personally, I believe if there are nutballs in the house, they need to be eaten as soon as possible, because they are that good! I pair them with a marinara sauce and simmer them for an hour. I’ve also thrown them in the Crock-Pot on low or the “keep warm” setting for parties. These faux bites, much like their traditional meat cousins, are versatile and would taste amazing in brown gravy or with a sweet n’ sour sauce. Hope you enjoy them!
This recipe was adapted from a gem I found on Food.com entitled, “Vegetarian ‘Meatballs.’”