Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pepperoni Beetballs

Even though I'm not vegan (or even vegetarian), Susan V's Fat Free Vegan Blog was the very first recipe blog I really started following. Why? Her recipes incorporate a lot of things I look for in my meals: healthy, tasty, vegetable-heavy recipes made out of whole foods. The first recipe that blew me away was her Patty Pan Squash with Cajun White Beans recipe, and ever since then I have made several more. Sometimes if she uses elaborate vegan workarounds to mimic, say, a cheese sauce, I will deveganize the recipe, but more often than not I just make it as is.

Like tonight. I saw her recipe which she called (somewhat unappetizingly) "Beetballs: A Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Sausage Recipe" which usually would make me NOT want to make the recipe, but the photo looked so good I scrolled down to take a look. From the ingredients I thought it would probably taste pretty good, so I made it up tonight. 

It was really good! Sort of like a rich pepperoni/sausage flavored falafel. It would be great with spaghetti in a red sauce, or sliced on a pizza. We had "beetball subs" with some spaghetti sauce and it was quite delicious! I think you can do a lot with this simple recipe. Here it is, with my small changes/notes for next time:

Pepperoni Beetballs


  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 medium beet
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, almonds, or other nuts (see note for low-fat alternative)
  • 1/2 medium red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (mild or spicy) (I subbed chili powder for this since I was out)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hickory smoked salt or Liquid Smoke (optional)


  1. Place the mushrooms in a small saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and rinse them well and set aside. If the stems stay hard like mine do even after boiling, remove them.
  2. While the mushrooms are cooking, put the nuts into a food processor and pulse to chop finely. Do not over-process–we want finely chopped nuts, not nut powder. Place the nuts in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel the beet and cut it into cubes. Add it to the food processor along with the reserved mushrooms, garlic, and onion and pulse to chop coarsely. Add the chickpeas and all remaining ingredients and pulse several times to chop the chickpeas, but do not turn it into a paste. All the individual ingredients should be recognizable.
  4. Add the processor contents to the nuts and stir well to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon of the reserved mushroom broth. Allow the mixture to rest while you preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, measure out a heaping tablespoon of “dough.” Using damp hands, form it into a ball, squeezing lightly to compact it. If the dough seems too dry, add additional broth (this should not be necessary–you don’t want the dough to be too wet). Place the ball on the lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. You should be able to make about 18-22 balls. If you like, flatten some of the balls to use in sandwiches or on pizza.
  6. Bake until the balls are brown and slightly crisp on the outside, about 35 minutes. (Flattened balls will take a little less time.) Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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