First of all, Happy New Year! I hope 2020 is a good one! Thank you again for being here with me and supporting this crazy endeavor. Now on to the post…
This superfood belongs in its own kingdom. Neither plant nor animal, mushrooms, in the Kingdom Fungi — those mysterious caps popping up on forest floors and on tree bark — pack many health benefits. Always great news for the vegetarian. This recipe for meatless mushroom meatballs (is that an oxymoron?) gives you tons of nutrition. It tastes great and satisfies any spaghetti and meatball craving.
I am not a big fan of soy-based or manufactured meat substitutes. Foods created in a lab or foods tweaked to taste like meat do not turn me on. They drift far away from simple, whole foods, you know, like our grandmothers used to make. Therefore, mushrooms are the perfect meat substitute. Ah, good old Mother Nature at her finest.
Health Benefits Galore
Mushrooms have a ton of health benefits. Not to get too technical, but two compounds, ergothioneine and glutathione, called “master antioxdiants,” are mentioned in many scholarly articles about mushrooms. The Guardian and WebMD have good information if you want to do some research and learn specific properties of mushroom varieties.
Once again, Italian cuisine is the rock star in this scenario. The porcini, the queen of mushrooms in southern Italy, provides a plethora of delights for our bodies above and beyond other mushrooms.
This recipe is adapted from a wonderful cookbook titled, Tuscany: The Beautiful Cookbook, Authentic Recipes from the Provinces of Tuscany by Lorenca De’ Medici (yes, that Medici family). The original recipe calls for chicken, roasted beef or veal; the mushrooms are in place of the meat. Enjoy these meatless mushroom meatballs with marinara, as a main dish or atop a mound of spaghetti.
Meatless Mushroom Meatballs
- 1 boiling potato red potatoes work well
- 1 lb mushrooms porcini, Portabella or crimini are good choices
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tsp Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 2 tbsp parmigiana cheese plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or more as needed for frying
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)
- salt to taste
- Wash potato, place in a pot and cover with salted water. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking with a toothpick. If the toothpick goes all the way in smoothly, the potato is ready. Peel, mash and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms: Wash and cut mushrooms into fourths. In a medium saucepan, saute mushrooms in 2 tbsp olive oil, stirring occasionally. After the mushrooms start to cook, they will begin to release their liquid. Continue cooking until all of the liquid is gone. Once the liquid is gone the mushrooms will begin to caramelize, and there will be a bit of brown in the bottom of the pan. Keep a close eye to make sure they don't burn. Once the pan is dry and there is a bit of brown in the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and chop mushrooms very fine. Optional: For added flavor, deglaze the mushrooms with 1/4 cup dry red wine. Once the pan is dry and there is a bit of brown in the bottom of the pan, add 1/4 cup wine and cook until wine evaporates. Remove mushrooms from heat and chop very fine.
- In a large bowl, add mushrooms, mashed potato, egg, parsley, marjoram, garlic, nutmeg, parmigiana and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. Mix well. Using your hands, form round balls about 1 inch in diameter. Each ball measures about 1 tablespoon. Put 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs into a small bowl and coat each meatball.
- Heat remaining olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add meatballs and cook until brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn meatballs to brown the other side and cook for another 4-5 minutes. You want a ball that is browned on all sides. Add more oil as needed. Remove from heat and place meatballs on paper towels to drain briefly. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and top with grated parmigiana cheese.These meatless meatballs go perfectly with a dry red wine.