Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cannelini Bean Meatballs

One of the good things about the Engine 2 Extra website is the recipes that are shared by its members. There hasn't been much forthcoming from the site itself lately except some teleconferences that aren't even saved like they used to be so members who couldn't participate can see what was said. There wasn't even anything special for the holiday season this year that I noticed except an "Iron Chef" type contest, which seems to have been going on in various forms for a year now.

Anyway, a member named Kirsten shared this recipe for bean balls made from cannelini beans that she revised from a recipe on the Cookin' Canuck website a year or so back:


1 ½ cans (15 oz. each) Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed  (I added half can black bean)

2 roasted red bell pepper (2 halves), roughly chopped
½ medium yellow onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley (I used Italian seasoning...forgot the parsley!)
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
Crushed fennel (tsp or so)
Tomato powder (tsp or so)
Paprika (dash)
 1 tbs flx/3tbs water
Nutritional yeast (1/4 cup or less)
½ cup dried breadcrumbs (see note)
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
Cooked spaghetti (whole wheat)

I topped with my 'parmasan cheese' which is nutritional yeast ground up with some sesame seeds...stored in fridge...makes a great 'cheesy' topping for pizza and Italian dishes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, flaxmeal/water combination, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve over spaghetti .

The amount of breadcrumbs required can change depending on the climate (dry vs. humid). If you find that the "meatballs" are not holding together firmly as you are shaping the first few, add more breadcrumbs, then reshape.

My variations:
Instead of 2 cannelini or cannelini and black beans, I used a can of cannelini and 3/4 cup of pinto beans.

The roasted red peppers I used came from a jar. The recipe says 2 peppers, I'll assume she herself revised this to 2 halves. I used 2 peppers, as written.

Instead of grating half an onion, I tossed about 3/4 cup of frozen diced onions into the food processor with the beans and peppers.

I never have parsley or cilantro around the house except in dried form, so like Kirsten I used dried Italian seasoning, a heaping tablespoon of the Pasta Sprinkles from Penzey Spices. It has the same ingredients as their regular Italian seasoning, and that was just what I filled my jar with the last time it emptied.

The tomato powder I used was once again Dr. Fuhrman's Mato Zest. I really should hit the HFS or order from Just Tomatoes and get plain old tomato powder, but this jar just seems neverending!

For breadcrumbs I used Ian's whole wheat panko. That's all I have in the house right now.

Here they are right out of the oven:

I had to put them in an additional 10 minutes, because after the first 20 they were still very soft and moist, and when I tried to turn them over to let the bottoms air out and dry, they stuck to the parchment paper. After the additional 10 they turned right around with no sticking.

They taste delicious, and probably would have made a tastier burger than the McVeggie burgers and would make excellent meatball sandwiches, especially topped with a nooch sauce, but as far as bean balls to add to pasta, no. Even after a half hour they just fell right apart on the plate when a fork is stuck into it. I'll be sticking with the Mediterranean Lentil Meatballs from Sarah Matheny when I want something to go with spaghetti: 

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