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Crispy Veggie Balls: the Recipe for the Vegetarian Variant of Classic Meatballs

Total time: 35 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 20 balls
By Cookist

Veggie meatballs are a tasty and colorful side dish, a vegetarian variant of the classic meatballs, ideal to also serve as a rich appetizer. This is a simple and quick homemade recipe, created to encourage the little ones to eat vegetables with gusto.

With a soft center and a crunchy crust, they are excellent as an idea to empty the fridge: in our version we have chosen carrots, zucchini and peas, but you can opt for the vegetables you prefer, based on seasonality. These will be sautéed in a pan with a base of oil and onion, then mixed with boiled potatoes, eggs and grated parmesan. After forming many meatballs, you will have to dip them in the beaten egg, cover them with breadcrumbs and then fly them in plenty of peanut oil until they appear golden on the surface.

What's the Difference Between Plant Balls and Veggie Balls?

When it comes to meatless options, plant balls and veggie balls have emerged as popular choices for those looking to reduce their meat consumption or seeking vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Though they might seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences in their ingredients, nutritional profiles, and culinary uses that cater to a variety of dietary preferences and tastes.

Plant Balls are designed to mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of meatballs, using a blend of plant-based proteins such as soy, peas, or beans. They often incorporate ingredients like vegetable oils, spices, and binding agents to achieve a meat-like flavor and consistency. Plant balls are part of a broader category of plant-based meats, engineered to appeal not only to vegetarians and vegans but also to meat-eaters looking for sustainable alternatives. The emphasis is on providing a protein-rich option that fits seamlessly into dishes traditionally made with meat, like spaghetti and meatballs or meatball subs, making it an easy transition for those reducing their meat intake.

Veggie Balls, on the other hand, celebrate the taste and texture of vegetables. Made primarily from a variety of chopped or processed vegetables, grains, and legumes, they are less about mimicking meat and more about offering a flavorful, nutrient-dense option. Ingredients such as mushrooms, carrots, peas, corn, oats, and quinoa are common, making veggie balls a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The flavor profile of veggie balls is usually more diverse, reflecting the vegetables used in their preparation. They are ideal for those who prefer to enjoy the natural flavors of plants without the intention of replicating meat.

Tips and Variations to Make the Perfect Veggie Balls

– You can serve the veggie balls immediately, piping hot, but they are also delicious cold or at room temperature, and they can be made ahead.

– Remember to consume them in the same day they are made, in order to preserve all their fragrance.

– To make them even more delicious and stringy, you can add a cube of cheese and make a double breading.

– If you prefer a lighter result, you can cook them in the oven or in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

– To make them extra crispy, you can bread them twice.

– The veggie balls are also excellent as tasty finger food for an aperitif or a buffet in the company of friends.

– They can be combined with a variety of sauces to enhance their flavor profile: guacamole, aioli, a classic homemade mayonnaise, a tzatziki sauce or an onion dip.

How to Store Veggie Balls

We recommend eating the veggie balls during the same day they are made. Freezing is not recommended, as it'd make the veggie balls lose their flavor. Find out how to prepare veggie balls by following the step-by-step procedure and advice.

300 grams
150 grams
fresh or frozen peas
150 grams
150 grams
Red onion
Grated parmesan cheese
80 grams
1 tuft
5 leaves
1 sprig
as much as you need
Extra virgin olive oil
as much as you need
as much as you need
Peanut seed oil
as much as you need

How to Prepare Veggie Balls

Wash the potatoes and boil them in plenty of boiling, lightly salted water for 30-40 minutes. Then, while they are still hot, puree them with a potato masher.

Chop the onion with a knife.

Clean the carrots and cut them into sticks and then into cubes.

Wash and cut the courgettes into 1/2 centimeter cubes.

Place a pan with the oil and chopped onion on a medium heat. Leave to flavor for a couple of minutes.

Add the carrots, mix and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Then add the zucchini and peas, add salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes over high heat, stirring often.

In the meantime, add the grated parmesan to the mashed potatoes, salt and nutmeg.

Also add the beaten egg and mix well.

Also pour the slightly warmed vegetables and the chopped aromatic herbs into the bowl.

Mix well with a spoon until you obtain a uniform and compact mixture.

Wet your hands and take 40 grams of mixture, rolling it between your palms. Place the meatballs on a sheet of baking paper.

Once you have made all the meatballs, first dip them in the beaten egg.

And, immediately afterwards, cover them entirely with breadcrumbs.

Fry the meatballs in plenty of seed oil brought to a temperature of around 320°F/160°C. You can monitor the temperature of the oil using a kitchen thermometer.

When they are golden, drain the meatballs and transfer them to a plate, lined with absorbent paper or straw paper.

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