Ohhhhhh the hours I poured over naming this beaut.
Bean Balls. Bean Ball Subs. Mushroom Meatball Sandwiches. Vegan Paleo Meatless Meaty Meatball Sub Sandwiches. What?
The bottom line is that I made you meatless balls because I love you and I love anything that’s a vehicle for marinara sauce atop a toasty bun. I’m the girl that asks for a side of tomato sauce with, um, everything. Like hold the cheese and double the sauce on that ‘za, mkay?
These balls have been a long time coming. One of my all time favorite meals in Columbus is the eggplant meatball sub at one of our only vegetarian restaurants, Whole World. It’s so good that my carnivrous boyf happily eats it without worrying his muscles will shrink. The rich marinara, the house-made whole grain bun, the most fantastical meatless meatballs…I mean I can barley write about it without salivating.
So it was due time for me to create something similar at home. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about making my recipes accessible to as many people as possible. With food allergies, insensitivities, and preferences on the rise like no other, it’s pretty important to me as a dietitian and food blogger to create food that tastes delish to the masses but is secretly super wholesome, plant-based, and more often than not, gluten-free. My goal in life is to make awesome, healthy food for all. We’re getting there!
The good news is that this recipe is VERY customizable. All tastebuds welcome.
Let’s talk ingredients. I found some gluten-free Italian-style panko breadcrumbs at Whole Foods on sale for super cheap-o; but please feel free to use whatever bread crumbs you have on hand (or even make your own)! I like the Italian-style ones for that extra hint of parsley, basil, and oregano. The panko adds great texture. If all you have is plain breadcrumbs, just go heavier on the Italian seasoning. If you’ve got fresh herbs like parsley and basil on hand (I’m jealous), add those!
For cheese lovers, Parmesan cheese would make a great stand-in for the nutritional yeast (which you can find in the natural section of any grocery store). I used pinto beans as the base, but kidney, chickpeas, or black beans would all work just fine. For extra umami flavah flave, try a splash of soy sauce (sub tamari for gluten-free) or a splash of vegan worcestershire sauce.
Now that I’ve given you three and a half zillion ways to modify this recipe, it’s time to set you free.
I hope you fall head over heels in love with these sammies like I have. The serving possibilities are endless. I adore them on Udi’s hot dog buns, but feel free to try them over zucchini noodles, whole grain pasta, or straight up dipped in copious amounts of marina.
THE MORE THE MAR[INARA]-IER!
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 3 large cloves garlic
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 1-15oz can pinto beans (any bean will work)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¾ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup Italian-style breadcrumbs (I used Italian-style gluten-free panko)
- 1½ cups marinara sauce (plus more if desired)
- 1 pkg Udi's gluten-free hot dog buns (6 buns)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Place walnuts and mushrooms on lined/sprayed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and leave oven on.
- Combine flax and water in a small bowl, stir, and set aside.
- Place garlic and onion in food processor and pulse a few times until chopped. Add beans, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and cooked mushrooms and walnuts (they will be hot, that's okay) and pulse until everything is chopped and mixture will hold together. There should be some texture-- it shouldn't look pureed.
- Dump mixture into a bowl and stir in flax mixture and bread crumbs.
- Roll mixture into 20 balls (a bit larger than a golf ball). Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 20 minutes
- Place three balls on each buns (toasted if desired) and top with ¼ cup marinara. You'll have a couple bean balls leftover.
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Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Hummusapien possible!