Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of "Bean-Balls"

Somebody call Bobby Flay. I'm ready for a throw-down.

You used to top your spaghetti with marinara sauce, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a big ol' meatball. Things are about to change, friends. Forget the meatballs...we're making BEAN balls tonight.

Yep, I said it. Flavorful, perfectly seasoned, and completely meat-free "Bean Balls."

These puppies are so perfectly seasoned and rich in flavor, I could snack on them like popcorn. (big, bean-y, hull-less kernels of seasoned popcorn?).

Having been a vegetarian for about 6 years, meat is so off my radar I sometimes forget it exists (Kentucky Fried...What?) However, during a recent viewing of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on the Food Network, my taste-buds were tempted by some stellar, softball-sized meatballs cooked up in a Buffalo, NY Italian restaurant. As the show droned on into the 11 o' clock hour, my mind wouldn't move past those sauce-covered balls of flavored...meat?

Darn. This just isn't going to work, is it?

Enter Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. The genius women behind this cookbook created a "Bean Ball" recipe that would put a carnivore's meatball to shame. Truly. Hence the invitation to Bobby Flay.

To serve, I prefer my bean balls without pasta, but heavily doused in Adam's homemade marinara. Adam piles his on top of whole wheat pasta with marinara. And, if you're not feeling the vegan vibe, you can of course add plenty of freshly grated parmesan.

All I can say tonight is, "Love me some bean balls." Now let's get ready to throw-down.

Bean-Balls with Adam's Marinara (the non-meat version of your favorite pasta topping)
(recipe adapted from the amazing Veganomicon Cookbook by Isa Chandra, Maskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

These bean-balls are seriously to-die-for. Eat them plain with marinara (and some delicious cheese?!), or even use them to make a big, meatless version of a meatball sub. Leftovers never tasted so good :)

Ball Ingredients:
  • 20 oz. canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 TBSP reduced sodium soy sauce (tonight, I used 1 TBSP soy sauce and 1 TBSP of liquid smoke instead)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
Bean-Ball Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2) Mash the beans with a fork or potato masher until they are pasty and mushed. Add remaining ingredients. Mix and mush all the ingredients together using your hands until they're thoroughly blended (I'm a firm believer that your hands are the best--and only--tool that should be used here).

3) Place bean balls on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom and top. Turn bean-balls over and cook for an additional 5 -7 minutes.

4) Cover your bean-balls with homemade marinara. Forget that such thing as a "meat-ball" ever existed.

Adam's Marinara Ingredients:
  • 1/2 of an onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 30 oz. canned tomatoes, with juices
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • a little olive oil
Marinara Directions:

1) Heat a little olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, approximately 3 - 5 minutes. Add the green bell pepper and saute until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic and oregano and cook for another 1 -2 minutes, stirring constantly.

2) Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 - 10 minutes on medium heat until it starts looking "saucy" (yes, this is seriously how he explains the recipe). Add tomato paste to thicken, as well as the basil, and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Adam says: "The sauce is ready now. Or, you can keep cooking it to allow the flavors to marry more. Or, take it the extra mile and refrigerate overnight." Yes, friends. This is how my husband explains a recipe.


  1. Haha, the way your husband describes his recipes is EXACTLY how my boyfriend does. "And now you are done. Or you can do more."

  2. I love using beans instead of MEAT -- so much cheaper!

  3. What an amazing recipe; these bean balls look delish and so does your sauce...great post! Have a wonderful day!

  4. Hey girl!! These bean balls look amazing! I blogged about your fabulous sweet potato pockets today! Go check it out. I thought they were so so good!! I am totally making them for my bestie!

  5. I was never a big meatball fan when I did eat meat, but these sound awesome! I bet you could change up the type of beans and spices for different cuisines. And thanks for sharing that marinara recipe too!

  6. this is my 3rd time trying to post here. i think there's something wrong w my internet!

    hopefully 3rd time's a charm works!

    your post for this one is hilarious!! so funny and cute!! i love bobby flay's throwdown show!!

  7. I love love bean balls and bean patties. They are seriously delicious. Love your recipe. May have to test this baby out. I do have a container of leftover beans in the fridge... :)