“Magic” mushroom and spinach meatballs

“I was going to make meatballs, but I have no meat…or eggs”

Simple to cook with a small amount of preparation – these mushroom and spinach meatballs have a meaty texture that hold together like magic!

Want to skip to the recipe?

When eradicating eggs and dairy from my diet, it also meant that it went from my cooking too. With a lot of dishes, one of the main questions I now often get asked, is how it’s all done without them.

How do cakes bake?

How do ingredients bind?

…it’s mad right?

Well not really! Once you’ve gone through your phase of “transition” as it were, you soon find, that a lot of the ingredients you now use in their place, were in your cupboards the whole time.

Cheap, simple and healthy (because they’re not fried)!

Admittedly, I first found the instigator for this dish on a vegetarian website – it was a mushroom meatballs recipe and when I went shopping for the ingredients, I looked again and realised I’d made the mistake of assuming it was vegan too –  it actually had egg in (as the binding component).

I set myself the task of working with the recipe anyway and as I cooked I realised the ingredients were binding pretty well together without.

Not one for just having mushrooms live alone in a dish (I wanted some greens) I opted to add in spinach, mainly because I love it, and saw the moisture from the plants and natural ingredients combine so well in front of me.

Once the breadcrumbs and oats had soaked up the remaining moisture, I realised all I needed was something a little sticky. The reason I opted for panko breadcrumbs was because of the crunch.

Having baked cakes previously using a combination of milk and oil to moisten, I thought I’d give it a go – the idea of leaving it to cool and refrigerate just gives the recipe time to set, as well as flavours time to infuse.

Soft and moist, just like meatballs are supposed to be I found that even a meat lover wasn’t left disappointed after eating this dish.

A true magician never reveals “her” secrets but this isn’t magic – this is just good, kind food.

The Recipe

PREP TIME: 20 MINS

COOKING TIME: 35 MINS

COST: < £5

Ingredients:

MEATBALLS:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 x medium onion – finely chopped
  • 500g closed cup mushrooms – finely chopped
  • 1 x cup quick cook oats
  • 1 x cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Teaspoon dried oregano
  • Teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • 300g of spinach
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Tablespoon of vegetable oil

SAUCE:

  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 x shallots
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • Teaspoon of dried Italian Herbs

Method:

  • Chop the onion, mushroom and garlic finely – I used a food processor to save my fingers and time
  • In a large pan, shallow fry the finely chopped onion in olive oil on medium heat until they appear clear and transparent.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook on high until the moisture has evaporated from the pan – you may notice I tend to use a wok
  • Brown the mushrooms and stir in the garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper – cook for a further 5 minutes
  • While cooking, chop the spinach roughly and sprinkle over the mushroom mixture, being careful to add a little at a time so it cooks through
  • Turn off the heat and add the quick cook oats and panko breadcrumbs – stirring thorughly until evenly spread
  • The mixture should be a little firmer now in which case you should add it to a mixing bowl and gently fold in almond milk and vegetable oil –  set it aside to cool
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour – overnight would be best to allow flavours to marinate.
  • Once ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Pinch small chunks of the mixture and roll into balls with your hands, line a baking tray with baking paper and set down to ensure they won’t stick – you may need an assistant to help you when it comes to washing your hands
  • Bake the balls in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a crisp golden brown
  • While baking, blend together shallots, garlic, salt and pepper and shallow fry in a little in oil in a small pan 
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and the Italian herbs – season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve the tomato sauce over meatballs with pasta or spaghetti

Tried this recipe? Let me know how it turned out.