Lately, Jack and I have been spending a lot of time with my family in Chicago. One thing my husband especially loves about this area is the plethora of meaty things between bread. People always ask me “is your husband vegetarian?” The answer is… nope, he’s not. He eats what he wants even though the food I cook at home is primarily plant-y. I call him an everything-eater. He loves a Chicago Italian beef sandwich just as much as he loves a macrobiotic meal… as long as you keep olives out of his food, he’s the least picky eater I know.
He’s also really honest with me. I tend to shy away from the “fake meat” types of things, but when I do make something that is inspired by a meat dish, he’s the first to tell me if it’s great or if I’ve missed the mark. Well, I fed these subs to him and my family last night, and not only did Jack wolf his down with approval, in a surprise move, my dad was the first to ask if there was any extra.
This recipe is a riff on the Eggplant Mushroom & “Meatball” recipe from our cookbook that we both love. I messed with it a bit, replacing the out-of-season eggplant with black beans, switching up the spices, and of course putting them between bread. I think even your pickiest eater will love this one, because even the mushroom flavor isn’t very pronounced after you smother these with marinara sauce.
The meatballs are not difficult to make but they do take a little bit of time. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, mushrooms in the pan and then adding balsamic, tamari, and black beans. I use my non-stick non-chemical GreenPan – this super pretty set that I showed you last week – because I hate when mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan and love knowing the surface they’re cooking on is completely toxic-free.”
The mushroom mixture gets pulsed in the food processor with walnuts and black beans. Then mix it in a bowl with brown rice and spices. Finally, use panko to form them into balls. This is what they look like before you bake them – they will brown nicely in the oven. If you want to make these in advance (say, for your Memorial Day gatherings this week) store the uncooked meatballs in the fridge overnight and bake them when you’re ready to eat. They firm up a bit in the fridge so this is a terrific make-ahead meal.
Once baked, heat up marinara sauce, add the meatballs, and then assemble them in buns with basil and (optionally) grated parmesan cheese. Note: this recipe is best when served in soft buns or baguette – nothing too crusty; these little veggie balls are more smush-able than a regular meaty meatball.
For the recipe, head to GreenPan’s website – CLICK HERE.
Also, since so many of you asked about the cookware that I used last week, GreenPan is offering 20% off the Padova 10-pc cookware set, in both available colors: grey & light blue. Use the code LOVEANDLEMONS20 at checkout. They also offer free shipping for orders over $50. This offer expires May 31st and cannot be combined with other offers.
Special thanks to GreenPan for sponsoring this post!