These are by far the best “meat free – meatballs” I have ever made! The consistency is really similar to regular meatballs, thanks to the combination between the cooked brown rice and mushrooms. To add that lovely cheesy flavour I have used nutritional yeast which works perfectly in this recipe. These “meatballs” are really versatile and they work really well with a simple tomato sauce and pasta dishes of if you want a lighter and fresher recipe I love serving them with these Celeriac Noodles. If you can’t get your hands on celeriac you can also regular white potatoes, sweet potato or courgette.
Makes about 15-20 balls depending on the size
For the Neatballs:
3 cups of cooked brown rice (for this recipe I find it works best short grain brown rice)
150 chestnut mushrooms – finely chopped
1 cup of walnuts – blitzed to a fine crumble
1 white onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of porridge oats
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 carrot – peeled and finely grated
2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of tahini paste
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of siracha or hot sauce
2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil + more for frying
3 tablespoon of soy sauce
A bunch of fresh thyme
About 2 cups of breadcrumbs for rolling the balls
For the tomato sauce:
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small white onion – finely chopped
1 garlic clove – minced
An handful of chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large celeriac
Heat up 1 teaspoon of oil in pan, add the chopped onion and mushrooms and cook it a medium heat stirring from time to time for about 6-8 minutes until the onion has soften and all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.
In a bowl mix together the ground walnuts, brown rice, nutritional yeast, thyme, oats salt and black pepper. In a separate bowl mix the soy sauce, tahini, siracha, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil and the garlic cloves finely chopped. Give it a good whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Once the mushrooms and onion are cooked add them to the bowl with the rice, together with the chopped spring onions and grated carrot. Pour the sauce on top and mix everything together. You should have quite a thick, dense “dough”.
With your hands scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into small balls. Roll the balls into the breadcrumbs.To cook the “meatballs” heat up a bit of oil in a large frying pan and cook them for a couple of minutes each sides until they start to go golden brown.
Once they are cooked place them on plate and leave them onto one side while you are making the rest.
To make the tomato sauce simply add a dash of olive oil to a pan with the onion and garlic. Cook for few minutes until the onion starts to soften and caramelise. Add in the tinned tomatoes and the fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook the tomato sauce for 10-15 minuets on a low heat.
Peel the skin off the celeriac and using a spiralizer make some “noodles”. Add the celeriac noodles to the tomato sauce and cook it for 5-8 minutes until they start to soften. Add more season if needed. Gently add in the neat balls and move them around the pan so they get coated in the tomato sauce.
Serve everything while still warm. Sprinkle with some extra black pepper or nutritional yeast.
Note on the “neat” balls:
They hold the shape so much better if eaten the next day after being refrigerated overnight. They also freeze really well and you can just reheat them in a pan for few minutes from frozen.