I wanted something that felt more “old school” for dinner the other night and the notion of spaghetti and meatballs fit the bill, albeit with some serious modifications. After having decided to use tempeh as the bulk of the “meatball”, I next wanted to make sure that I packed them full of nutritional value and loaded them up with vegetables and a couple of fruits [tomatoes and raisins] to boot! I also chose to oven-bake them rather than pan fry to keep them on the virtuous side of the dinner line. These were awesome over quinoa pasta, but I can see them being great in a sandwich piled high with sautéed onions and peppers and dripping with marinara sauce as well!
Tempeh and Vegetable “Meatballs”
[Makes 8 nice-sized meatballs]
8 oz package tempeh
4 roasted Roma tomatoes [could sub with 4 whole canned Roma tomatoes]
1 onion, finely diced [1 ¼ cup is what I ended up with]
¼ cup carrot, finely diced
½ cup kale, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
1 T ground flax seed
1 T raisins, minced
1 T fresh oregano, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes*
olive oil, for sautéing the vegetables
* [Optional if you want some extra heat]
If roasting your own tomatoes, halve them and lightly spray with olive oil. Place in a 400°F oven for an hour or until the tops have caramelized.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened. Add in garlic, carrots, celery and kale. Sauté until the vegetables have softened. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a food processor, add tempeh and roasted tomatoes. Pulse a few times. Add flax seed, raisins, oregano [both fresh and dried], salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined but do not over process. You want a crumbly texture, not a paste.
Transfer the tempeh mixture to a bowl and add in the bread crumbs, pine nuts and cooked vegetables. Mix well and set aside to rest for 10 minutes in order to give the ground flax time to hydrate. Roll into 8 meatballs.
Place in an oven-safe dish and lightly spray with olive oil. Place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the outside of the meatballs have browned.