So these are like meatballs – but made with beets! Hence, beetballs. If, when making or serving these, you feel compelled to loudly and repeatedly sing (to the tune of the old Batman theme song) “Dana Nana Nana Nana….BEETBALLS!” just know you do so with my full understanding and support. Also I’m sorry if I just put that in your head.
Oh, you mean I should actually show you what they are and how to make them? Sorry, got distracted for a second there. Aside from the fact that you have to pan fry them, these are pretty easy to throw together. Just combine some black beans, an onion, and a couple of shredded beets in a large bowl like so:
You can also throw in a handful of parsley or some spinach, it’s a great way to sneak in some greens. On a side note I wonder why it is that greens get such a bad rap? People are always talking about ways to sneak them into food, like they are so healthy but just taste awful and need to be masked. I love leafy greens! They taste great! Raw, sautéed, baked…they are so flexible and really just as tasty as any other vegetable group. So I take it back – don’t sneak any greens into these beetballs, add them proudly as another delicious ingredient that adds flavor and complexity to the dish. Okay, side note over, back to the recipe.
Blend up your beet and veggie mixture until it’s thoroughly pureed. It’ll be pretty wet, so then you can add about a cup of brown rice flour (or any other flour) until you get a sort of ground-beef texture. Or ground beet texture. Seriously, it rhymes with meat and is only one letter away from beef, the hilarious puns just write themselves. It even looks a little like ground beef, only smoother and quite a bit more fuchsia:
That’s your base – you can now shape it into balls, patties, pretty much whatever you want. Haven’t tried it as a loaf yet but I suspect that would work too. To make beetballs just roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and sauté it in a pan with some oil over medium-high heat. I have made these in a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel pan and both worked great. The outsides will darken up to a blackish/reddish color fairly quickly:
Once they are evenly heated you can serve them immediately – in spaghetti, with gravy, whatever you want to do. You can also shape them into patties and pan fry or grill, just like a burger. This recipe makes about 30-40 meatballs or 6 patties, and you can shape the raw dough and freeze it for later if that’s more than you need.
Dana nana nana nana….BEETBALLS!
So apparently I’m on a dressing kick lately – first my raspberry vinaigrette, then carrot ginger dressing, then mushroom gravy, and now I’ve figured out how to make thousand island dressing without any dairy so I just have to share that! I’ll try to control myself for the next week or two. Beyond that I make no promises, though.
I know I always say how easy everything is, but since the whole point of this blog is to post recipes that are so simple and quick that anyone could make them, it’s usually true. This dressing is no exception – you literally combine oil and soy milk in a food processor or blender, then add some lemon juice, vinegar, ketchup, and sweet relish, and TADA! You’ve got a very convincing rendition of thousand island dressing, ready to slather on your favorite veggie burger or salad.
You could always add your own twist to this until it’s exactly how you like it – add some onion or garlic powder, or a dash of hot sauce, or a splash of balsamic vinegar…it’s a pretty basic recipe that can handle lots of fun tweaking. But if you’ve been missing that lovely pink dressing since you quit eating dairy, your suffering is now over!
My first attempt at making vegan gravy was, to put it nicely, gross. A weird blend of broth, spices, and nutritional yeast, it was kind of orange and runny and just generally nothing anyone would want to eat. Certainly nothing you’d want to serve to your omnivore friends unless you wanted to really convince them that vegans are crazy. This gravy, on the other hand – wow. Worlds better. I actually served it this past Thanksgiving and everyone was asking for seconds and thirds.
I usually go with a bag of frozen mixed mushrooms for this both for cost effectiveness and convenience, but I’ve made it with fresh mushrooms and they work too. Either way, you just throw ‘em in a pot with about three cups of broth and one of water (technically I’m sure you could use all broth or all water, this is just the ratio I like to use) and boil them for maybe 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are nice and soft. You can also add some roughly chopped onion and garlic and let that simmer along with the mushrooms – you’ll be blending it later so you don’t even need to work that hard chopping them fine.
I had just added the onions when I took that photo so they are all on top – there’s actually lots of mushrooms under there too! Once everything has boiled for a bit, stir in a quarter cup of flour – I used brown rice flour, I think most flours would work – along with some salt, white pepper, and nutritional yeast (I couldn’t resist using a little…) and blend it all together with an immersion blender or by transferring it to a regular blender a little at a time. Please keep in mind that hot liquid expands when you blend it so be very careful. Either way, you’ll end up with a mixture like this:
Hey, it looks like gravy! At this point you have a couple of options – you can call it done it as it is, let it simmer longer to thicken more, or add about 3/4 cup soy milk to make it a little bit lighter and creamier. If you do this you’ll probably want to let it simmer another 10-20 minutes to thicken up a bit, or add a little more flour or cornstarch if you’re impatient.
This makes about 3 cups of gravy, depending on how long you let it boil down. It’s also really flexible – use different seasonings, different amounts, it’s not finicky. It keeps well in the fridge for at least a few days – mine has never lasted longer than that because it’s too good to resist eating!