It’s Virtual Vegan Potluck time, and I couldn’t be more excited! Have you seen some of these crazy-gorgeous blogs and food? Once you’ve taken a peek at this recipe that I created just for the Potluck, take some time to scroll through and see what everyone else has cooked up! You’re going to be very hungry (if only the Internet had smell-o-vision).
When I was a kid, my parents and I would go to a local Moroccan restaurant (in Plano, Texas of all places), and being the enthusiastic carnivore I once was, I would GET DOWN on some kefta, or Middle Eastern meatballs made with lamb, bulgur wheat, and gorgeous spices. Now I know better and wouldn’t even think of doing more than snuggling a lamb, but I still appreciate the concept of a compact, toothsome ‘meatball’ infused with aromatic Middle Eastern spices. These magical morsels taste ridiculously savory, thanks to an easy to make slurry of mushrooms, chickpeas, and spices. Best of all, they’re healthier than your standard meatball. Why? No eggs, no added oil, and lots of whole grains and nutrient-rich veggies.
And nestled atop a bed of fresh barley with pine nuts, lemon, and other aromatics, this dish is the perfect unexpected take-along to your next function. Why? Well, firstly, because the mint, parsley, and other flavors really come through, and that’s kinda neat. And, because every good potluck has hummus and other similarly dreamy dips, and these meatballs are taken to a whole. other. level. when they’re dragged through creamy baba ganouj, or drizzled with tahini-based sauces. In other words, this dish plays well with others.
Minted Moroccan Meatballs with Aromatic Barley
- Yields: 28 meatballs, 15 servings of barley
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes (depending upon whether you use quick-cook or traditional barley)
For the Minted Moroccan Meatballs –
- 12 Baby Bella Mushrooms (aka: Cremini), rinsed
- 1 cube of vegan bouillon
- 1/2 can of chickpeas
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup bulgur wheat, ground in to a medium meal
- 2/3 cups vital wheat gluten
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, ground in to a coarse meal (I still like lots of in-tact pine nuts peeking out)
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chiffonade
- 3 tbsp fresh mint, chiffonade
- 2 tbsp flax seed meal
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon, to taste
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tbsp black pepper, coarsely ground
For the Aromatic Barley –
- 8.8 oz barley (I used the entire package of Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Quick Cook Barley, cooked to package instructions)
- 1 tbsp olive oil, for sauteeing
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chiffonade
- dash of cinnamon, to taste
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment or silpat.
- In a high-speed blender, combine mushrooms, veggie bouillon cube, chickpeas, Sriracha, and water. Blend until smooth. This should yield about 2 cups of liquid. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, vital wheat gluten, pine nut meal, flaxseed meal, parsley, mint, and finely diced onions.
- Slowly add remaining meatball ingredients (including spices and lemon juice) and gradually add the 2 cups of mushroom liquid until a sticky dough-like consistency is achieved.
- Work the ‘dough’ by-hand or with a spatula to further activate the vital wheat gluten (you should see strands forming) and to ensure all ingredients are evenly assimilated.
- Form the dough in to 1/2 inch balls (or larger, if you like) and place evenly on prepared baking sheets. You may drizzle or spray the meatballs with a little olive oil to encourage more browning during cooking, if you like.
- Crank the oven up to 425F and bake for 30 minutes.
- While those are baking, cook your barley according to package instructions.
- In a separate skillet, sautee your olive oil, garlic, and onions on high until caramelized (about 5 – 7 minutes depending upon your stove’s heat).
- Once caramelized, add pine nuts and stir consistently to allow for browning and toasting (not burning).
- Once toasted, remove skillet from heat and set aside.
- Drain and rinse cooked barley with cold water. Ensure all of the liquid is drained from the barley and put in a large bowl.
- Add your skillet mixture, lemon juice, fresh parsley, cinnamon, and anything else you’d like to your barley. This could be made EXTRA amazing if you could get your hands on some Zatar, Sumac, or you added dried currants or soaked golden raisins. What what!
- Once cooked, remove your meatballs from the oven. They should be firm, browned, and crispy on the outside. For a softer meatball, you can rinse these quickly (like one second) under the tap to lend extra softness (this won’t affect the taste at all).
- For a potluck, I recommend nestling the aromatic barley in a large casserole dish and placing the meatballs on top. Sprinkle with more fresh parsley and mint, and serve.
Want to see other recipes + blogs from the Virtual Vegan Potluck? Click the links below and prepare to be wowed!