Monday, April 2, 2012

walnut bella "meatball" subs

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 i can safely say before going vegan that i have ever had a meatball sub.
meatball pizza - yes! (the best one around was from the old corner deli)

i was introduced to the world of "meatball" subs by Justin. we use to make them fairly often on Saturday nights at the beginning of our relationship.

efforts are being made to avoid "mock meats", they just don't seem to agree with me any longer.
the other day, after seeing a pin for a meatball sub a little craving started to form, then it was all i could think about. my mission this weekend: to create my own tasty "meatball" sub.  i consider this the grown up version of an all American favorite.

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the ingredients for the walnut bella 'meatballs" may seem a little strange - but trust me on this, these will be the best balls you ever tasted. hmm that doesn't sound right...moving on.
walnuts, baby bella's, dates, savory spice & parsley are mixed with fresh bread crumbs and a flax egg
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then formed into balls a heaping tablespoon at a time.
gluten free option: replace the bread crumbs with a gluten free bread or leave out completely with the flax egg - minus these two ingredients will yield about 6 balls or 2 servings.
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while your "meatballs" are cooking, yellow bell pepper, shallot and grape tomatoes are sauteed and finished with a splash of balsamic, resulting in a very grown up alternative to the basic tomato sauce


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toast a few sub rolls
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and assemble

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the subs come together in about 30 minutes. you could easily bake up a batch over the weekend and reheat throughout the week. they would be perfect with pasta or on a pizza.
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served with a side of BBQ sweet potato chips and a beer -
this was the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch.


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 hands down the best "meatball" sub i've ever  had - i can't wait for leftovers tomorrow!
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Walnut Bella "meatball"  Subs
makes 12 "meatballs" & veggie filling for 2 subs

you will need:

for the walnut bella "meatballs"
1 cup walnuts* 

*For a nut-free version use pepitas (raw hulled pumpkin seeds)
4oz baby bella mushrooms - cut in half
1tsp all purpose savory seasoning
4 sprigs fresh parsley
4 medjool dates- pitted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice of bread)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax & 3tbsp warm water, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes)

for the veggie filling
1/2 orange bell pepper sliced into strips
1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 large shallot sliced
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 sub rolls toasted
parsley for garnish

assembly:
preheat oven to 400*

finely grind the slice of bread into crumbs in a food processor - transfer crumbs to a small bowl & set aside.
in the food processor, finely ground 1 cup walnuts, half of the mushrooms, seasoning & parsley until well mixed. the mixture should be a bit moist from the walnuts. transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl.

add dates and remaining mushrooms to the processor until well ground. with a rubber spatula transfer date/mushroom mixture to the bowl with the walnut mixture. add bread crumbs, olive oil, salt and flax egg - mix well.

a heaping tablespoon at a time form a ball with the mixture - place on a parchment lined baking sheet. continue 12 times until all the mixture has been formed into balls.

bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.

while the "meatballs" are baking - prep your veggies.
in a medium saute pan over medium/high heat - add oil, once oil is heated add veggies and saute. caramelized bits are good. towards the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the balsamic to de glaze the pan. continue to cook until balsamic is reduced to 1/2 - you are looking to create a glaze of balsamic on the veggies. remove from heat and set aside.

when you have about 2-3 minutes of cooking time left on the "meatballs" place 2 sub rolls cut side down on the upper rack of the oven.

once the "meatballs" are done cooking, remove from the oven along with the sub rolls. allow the "meatballs" to cool for about 3 minutes.

assemble the subs by placing half the veggie mixture into the roll, top with walnut bella "meatballs" and garnish with parsley

leftover "meatballs" can be stored in an airtight container for up to week and reheated as needed or frozen on a cookie sheet and stored in a freezer bag for later use.

enjoy!




65 comments:

  1. These look really great - and I love the simple ingredient list.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Kiersten! You have an adorable blog, I will definitely be stopping by for a visit again to look around :)

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  2. So. Brilliant.

    I've played around with making 'meat' out of nuts befre, but these meatballs... with the portabella, and the seasonings, and the flax, and the dates... seriously making me salivate, over here. So jealous of your leftovers!

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    1. LOL I just finished the leftovers with a bit of marinara sauce - OMG so good!

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    2. Hey - wanted to let you know I just nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! :D

      Check out my post to see the rules: http://willcookforfriends.blogspot.com/2012/04/sams-grilled-cheese-and-versatile.html

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    3. You are the best bloggin' buddy eva Willow :)

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  3. wow, these look amazing! i used to love meatball subs..must try this one.

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    1. I love that you repinned these as "for Dayv" - you are so cute! Is he a fan of "meatballs"?

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    2. haha thanks! he told me recently he is more open to trying new foods, so i thought this would be a great thing to make. it looks delicious!

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  4. wow...This looks delicious! Great idea. Do the date add a little sweetness?

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    1. Just a hint of sweetness which gives the "meatballs" a great balance of savory and sweet, which I love!

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  5. Shaking head in disbelief? Check. Pinned? Check. Telling Heather she needs to share her creativity in the Kitchen? YOU NEED TO SHARE YOUR CREATIVITY IN THE KITCHEN!!! Check.

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    1. This coming for the queen of creativity of herself - I am honored :)

      And you are pure awesomness for repinning!

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    2. You are pure awesomeness for creating this! Pinning it is a total DUH! Of course I did :)

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  6. Wow, no Taco Bell... No meatball subs... what in the world did you eat? ;) These look delish by the way, and I've been looking for a new "meat"ball recipe, thanks!

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    1. Oh Barb - believe me growning up I lived off of a partially horrible diet, peeps, little debbie snack and McD's - I just shake my head at how I use to eat years ago!

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  7. Oh my goodness these look fantastic! I've never had a meatball sub either, and never will (at least not the traditional ones). I will have to make this and see what I've been missing :)

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    1. You definitely have to try these Gabby- they are so addicting in a good way!

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  8. I just found your blog from The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

    This is such an amazing idea. Dates are such incredible binders in raw dessert balls. I would have never made the conceptual leap to savory meatballs. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thank you for Stopping by and visiting!

      I love the binding quality of dates, they were a perfect addition to this recipe - I couldnt have been happier with the end result!

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  9. What a clever idea! I agree with Cara - lots of creativity in the kitchen here!

    I am not a fan of fake meats either (never have been), but I stay away from any processed food anyway so it doesn't matter to me :)
    These look absolutely beautiful, though. A tasty "meatball" sub made with walnuts (which I love)? I'M IN!

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    1. They were almost too pretty to eat...almost. These totally beat the socks off any processed "meatball" :)

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  10. Finally a decadent recipe for 'meat' balls - live these do much (I bet would tasted awesome in a fried cheese batter served with pasta sauce!)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  11. I love how you created such a meaty meatball by using walnuts and mushrooms instead of fake meat products. With the peppers and tomatoes, these are definitely a more sophisticated and gourmet meatball sub compared to the traditional kind (which I've never eaten either)!

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    1. They were SO easy to make too - the veggies would totally be delish all on their own as well :)

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  12. i think this is what i am going to feed the tempeh and tofu hating meat eating friends of mine.. this is super amazingly deliciousness and did i say so pretty! i dont like fake meat either! i agree with Cara too.. some genius at work in your head there!

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    1. Tofu Tempeh haters? what kind of crowd are you running with Richa!

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  13. *hehehehehehe* Loved your joke about the balls. Made me giggle. :)

    I've never had a meatball sandwich before, but now I am very tempted to try this out. Love that you used natural ingredients. I'm finding that the fake meat products are not agreeing with me either. I hate how processed so much of that stuff is. Cannot wait to try this recipe out Heather :)

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    1. Same here, I've noticed that my tastes/palate has been changning lately and craving whole foods and simple meals - maybe its the change in season :)

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  14. Oh. My. Heavens. THIS LOOKS DELICIOUS! Which means I need to find a vegan/gluten free bread I actually like so I can enjoy this sandwich properly.

    PS - I had never had a meatball sub before going vegan, either ;)

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    1. I bet Richa has a pretty tasty Gluten Free Sub roll she could whip up for you!

      ...I do have to say they were pretty tasty with a bit a marinara :)

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  15. These look so good! We use mushrooms in burgers - they seem to add a great texture! To make these SCD legal or gluten free I would use dried cooked navy beans instead of the breadcrumbs and a bit of almond flour, I don't think I'd even need to use an egg (flax seeds aren't allowed on SCD).

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    1. You could totally make those substitutions - let me know how they turn out with your adjustments!

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  16. Oooooh, these look so great! Really fantastic recipe! :-)
    Katy

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    1. Thank you - I thought they tasted pretty fantastic too :)

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  17. These sound great! I'm going to try making them soon. Thanks for posting the recipe. :)

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    1. Thank YOU for stopping by for a visit; I hope you love them as much as I did!

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    2. Made them yesterday - super amazing!

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    3. YOU are super amazing for making these - I am so glad you liked them :)

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  18. Have these in the oven right now! So excited to put them on my spaghetti!

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    1. YAY! I made them a second time last week for my book club with marinara sauce as an app (a group of non vegan's) and they were the first to disappear - enjoy them with your pasta!

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  19. I bet those meatballs are delicious! Something sweet is so good in savory dishes! The pictures are gorgeous as well!

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment Vicky! I love the combo of savory and sweet!

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  20. I found these via pinterest. Just made them, am eating them now and had to run over here and tell you THANK YOU - YUM!!! I just love that they are made with all natural ingredients and are so easy to put together. These will be a staple.

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    1. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to read your comment - I am SO glad that you made them and loved them!

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  21. I was raised a vegetarian snd although I do eat meat now, I still love great vegetarian dishes. My mom's recipe did not have dates but otherwise is similar. These sound yummy and I love to balance savory with sweet. Will try them sometime soon. Would work as appetizer meatballs too eith grape jelly and bbq sauce or A1.

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  22. I came across this on Pinterest and had to make it. Your pictures are beautiful. My usual "meat"ball recipe uses walnuts and seitan, and I love that one - but your recipe was so much easier and faster to make, but just as delicious! This will be my go-to from now on. I omitted the dates (I was afraid they might make it too sweet)... I also added some Italian seasoning. Otherwise, I followed the recipe and they turned out perfectly! I served over angel hair pasta with primavera sauce. Quick weeknight dinner with delicious results! Looking forward to having the leftovers in a sub tomorrow.

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    1. Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for stopping by - this is by far one of my favorite recipes (I actually made these for Valentines day!) I hope you enjoyed the leftovers in your sub :)....I am totally craving these now and it is 9am :)

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  23. I saw your "meatball" recipe in the Meatout Monday newsletter and hope to try it soon. I'm not vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I love vegetarian food, and I'm trying to eat more vegan meals. Two questions:

    I'm allergic to walnuts and pecans. Do you think cashews would be a good substitute for the walnuts?

    Could you be more specific about the "all purpose savory seasoning"? Two came to mind that I often use: No-Salt Added Garlic and Herb Seasoning, and old-fashioned Seasoned Salt. The results would be very different, depending on which was used, and you might have something else in mind (Spike? Mrs. Dash Original? Lemon-Pepper?)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Hi there! I have used raw hulled sunflower seeds with great success - I think the cashews would give you a more creamy vs meaty texture, but it may be worth a try if you don't have sunfower seeds on hand or hae a dislike for them. I used an all purpose italian seasoning- The no salt added garlic and herb would be perfect! Let me know if you have any additional questions :)

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  24. These are wonderful! Thank you!

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  25. Made these tonight (with a few tweaks) and they were very good! Thank you for a great recipe!

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    1. Thank you for stopping over and sharing! They are one of my favorite weeknight meals, also super good for spaghetti & meatball nights!

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  26. Hi, Cant stand mushrooms, could these be made using anything else? Tofu? Tempeh? Eggplant maybe?

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    1. Hmmmm roasted eggplant or a firm tofu may work- I can't say for certain as I never have tried this with anything other than mushrooms- if you do venture and try with another ingredient other than mushrooms let me know how it worked out!

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  27. Hi, could I make these the night before, and cook them up the next day? I'm going to make them as a vegan alternative burger for my Halloween get-together :)

    Thanks, Cathy

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    1. Absolutely! I have done this in the past for parties and it works out just fine :)

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    2. do these freeze well precooked? i like the idea of using them as a burger but was wondering if i could make the "meat", shape into burgers, wrap and freeze before cooking

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    3. I have not tried precook method but I can tell you I have always cooked my veggie burgers prior to freezing, then would either recook in the oven or pan fry which has never failed me. :)

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  28. awesome recipe...I substituted prunes for dates. I was great.

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    1. Nice substitute! So happy you liked the recipe, it is still one of my favorites!

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Thanks for stopping by - your comments make my day!