Vegeta-balls

img_1756We like most everything when it comes to food. The fellow doesn’t care much for mushrooms, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts, and I’m not a huge fan of condiments like ketchup and mustard or relish, and raw onion can go sit and spin. Growing up, I was an insanely picky eater. My parents fought me on a lot of dishes, but I was happy with my can of Spaghetti-O’s, mid-west Kowalski brand hot dogs, the occasional steak doused in ranch dressing, and I did like carrots and corn. You could bribe me to eat salad now and again, but I only wanted green iceberg lettuce (none of the white/clear spine, thank you very much) and maybe a couple unseasoned croutons. Swimming in ranch.

My, how I have grown.

These days, since I do all the cooking, I get to pick and choose what’s going on our dinner plates, and I like a challenge. We are omnivores. We love our fruits and vegetables, but we love our meat, too. I delight in attempting new, slightly unconventional recipes. My goal for 2017 is to cut out a lot of processed food (everything is processed to some degree unless you’re going into your back yard and pulling the carrot out of the dirt), and make a lot of our food from scratch. My job allows time for this. These broccoli Parmesan “meat”balls fit the bill for something a little different, a little stranger, but a lot of fun and flavor. The author of the recipe missed a huge opportunity to call her vegetable meatballs “vegeta-balls”, so I’m here to share this terrible pun for a delicious food with you all.

Vegeta-balls

adapted from Oh My Veggies [Broccoli Parmesan Meatballs]

1/2 cup raw almonds
1 large head broccoli or 2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon sweet basil, finely shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Steam broccoli. To do this, either use a steamer if one is available, or in a pot with water. Bring about an inch of water to a boil and add broccoli florets. Cover and let steam for 4-6 minutes, until fork tender. Don’t let them turn to mush. Drain water from pan and set aside. Squeeze as much of the remaining liquid out of the broccoli to avoid a slimy texture.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the raw almonds until it resembles a coarse meal. Some will turn into powder, which is okay, but the point is to have little chunks, not flour. Set chopped almonds aside in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Add the steamed broccoli to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until chopped. Add to the bowl of almonds, as well as the Parmesan, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using. Mix together.
  5. Add in the lightly beaten egg and stir (or use your hand) to combine.
  6. Spray a (mini) muffin tin with olive oil or a non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Form the vegetable mix into 12 evenly sized balls, being sure to squeeze them together tightly. Place each formed ball in a muffin cup.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown and they are warm all the way through.

These can be served immediately, or set aside in the fridge and re-heated in a dry skillet.

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