The best thing about this experiment has been the feedback from friends and readers. Who knew so many of you were into vegetarian cooking and eating – even occasionally? Even legendary meat lovers (hi, Dave’s Cupboard!) have come out of the woodwork to admit they like tofu.
The fun part has been searching for recipes and inspiration online. For Tuesday dinner, I looked to Twitter friend Katie’s blog, The Small Boston Kitchen, remembering that I’d seen several delicious-looking meatless options on there when I first started following. (Katie and her boyfriend, Richard, also run The Skinny Beet, a catering/private chef service in the city.)
With a bunch of leftover cooked quinoa from Monday’s dish sitting in my fridge, I lit upon Katie’s Quinoa Veggie Meatball recipe. I followed it as closely as possible, with a few substitutions: leaving out the mushrooms (I still can’t get into them,) the pine nuts (I had some in my cupboard, but couldn’t locate them quickly enough) and using Swiss chard for spinach. I didn’t have a fresh red pepper on hand, so I sauteed some frozen bell pepper strips from Trader Joe’s.
I also threw in a tablespoon of minced garlic and left out the rosemary. The oregano was key, though, adding a little extra infusion of Italian flavor. Basil or marjoram (fresh or dried) would have been great, too.
I had my suspicions about the outcome. Would they be bland? Mushy? Dry? Overly crunchy? Would I miss the meat? But I should learn to just sit back and enjoy, because these were fabulous. With a basic Trader Joe’s tomato basil marinara, the “vegballs” were more hearty, moist and subtly spiced than I ever expected.
I served mine in spaghetti-and-meatballs fashion, with a side of roasted broccoli. Katie served hers on a grinder roll with marinara and mozzarella, but suggested making smaller veggie balls as a potential party appetizer. I think that’s an excellent idea.
This recipe is certainly open to customization, and it’s a great way to pack tons of vegetables into the mix. I predict this will be a frequent staple in our kitchen from now on. Thanks, SBK!