Veggie “Meatballs” from the Meatball Shop in NYC
I remember watching a segment on the Food Network quite a few years ago which featured a small establishment in the West Village area of New York City called The Meatball Shop. Their concept was simple and very successful. Essentially, they offered 5 varieties of meatballs, including classic, chicken, pork, veggie, and a daily special. These could be served up naked, as a hero sandwich on a fresh baguette, smashed on a brioche bun, or over a green salad. To literally “top” things off, there were homemade sauces to choose from, including classic tomato, spicy meat, Parmesan cream, mushroom gravy, and pesto.
In 2012, I was finally able to visit with my family and sample the many delicacies! In those days prior to me being vegetarian, we sampled every variety of meatball with a combination of several flavorful sauces. Even then, I appreciated that they offered a vegetarian option.
At that time, I had no idea that in just a couple of years I would begin to focus on a plant-based lifestyle and no longer eat meat. When I wanted to prepare meatballs for a dinner party one night, I remembered how much I enjoyed the veggie “meatballs” at The Meatball Shop. Fortunately, during the night of our visit, they were handing out index cards with the recipe and we happened to grab one on our way out. While the original recipe is vegetarian, I modified it to make it vegan by substituting vegan Parmesan and egg.
Keep in mind that most plant-based “meatballs” don’t really taste like meat or have a meat-like consistency. While you can purchase a variety of plant-based meatballs from most grocery stores that better meet these criteria, most tend to be highly processed. In the spirit of sticking to whole, plant-based foods, most homemade veggie “meatballs” should be appreciated for exactly what they are. I enjoy the texture of the lentils and chopped walnuts and the flavor of the traditional mirepoix (the trinity of onions, carrots, and celery), herbs and spices.