Some of the world’s greatest inventions were created by mistake: penicillin, pace makers, super glue, Teflon, and microwave ovens. My attempt, the other night, at making vegan “meatballs” was a big mistake, too — they didn’t hold together very well, the outside layer of rice turned crunchy, and the taste absolutely did not mesh with the pasta and marinara sauce that I paired them with. But just like all of those accidental inventions I mentioned previously, my meatless meatballs calamity didn’t end in tragedy either. Today I used the leftovers to create a simple, but filling salad for lunch that I think anyone would enjoy!
I started with the “Candle Cafe Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers” recipe that I found at The Engine 2 Diet (one of my favorite new sites for vegan recipes). I altered the recipe, slightly, since my goal was to use the mixture to make meatballs. I used:
two cups of dried, french lentil beans (homegrown, I might add)
two cups of organic, long grain brown rice
two cloves of minced garlic
one white onion, chopped into small pieces
one and one-half teaspoons of salt
one and one-half teaspoons of dried oregano
whole wheat flour
Italian bread crumbs
a little bit of milk to help with binding (okay, now I guess the recipe only qualifies as vegetarian. Next time, though, I’m planning on using homemade rice milk)
Here’s how the “meatballs” were made:
In a medium saucepan, I brought 2 cups of water to a boil, added the rice, reduced the heat, covered, and simmered it for forty minutes.
In another saucepan, I cooked the lentil beans in water that slightly covered them until they were softened (this also took about forty minutes, and I don’t know why since the Engine 2 recipe says it should only take about fifteen minutes).
I drained and set aside the rice and beans once they were cooked.
Then, in a skillet, I sauteed the garlic and the onion until they were lightly browned
In a large bowl, I combined the lentils, rice, vegetables, and the salt.
This is where the trouble started. I tried to shape the mixture into balls, but they just didn’t want to hold together. The Engine 2 recipe said to add a bit of flour to help, if needed. I added, and added, but still couldn’t get the mixture to stick. In order to keep the taste from going bland, I added some Italian bread crumbs, but, still, they refused to stay together! That’s when I brought out the milk. I added about three to four tablespoons. This seemed to do the trick, and I was finally able to form the mixture into balls…
I baked them in a 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes, took them out, spooned them on top of some pasta, and ladled on some marinara sauce, and you know the rest of the story. 😦
I was seriously contemplating throwing the rest of them out, but I opted, instead, to keep the rest of the leftovers (boy, there were a lot of them) and I’m so glad I did!
Today, as I was looking for something to eat for lunch, I thought about using the “meatballs” to make a sandwich. The plan was to make some homemade pita bread, and stuff it with the meatballs, lettuce, and a creamy cucumber dressing. With all that I had going on today, I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make the bread. Instead, I thought I’d just toss everything together in a salad…
First, I took a handful of mixed greens from the garden…
Then, I made a simple dressing out of (again, not completely vegan) about two tablespoons of sour cream, a third cup of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of mustard, about a tablespoon of cider vinegar, two tablespoons of chopped, fresh chives, one-half of a cucumber, chopped, and some fresh, cracked pepper…
I crumbled three of the meatballs into the salad, added the dressing, and…viola! A delicious, protein-packed, nutrient rich, and filling salad that more than satisfied my taste buds – it sent me back for a second helping!
I’ll keep working with the dressing to bring it up to vegan standards, and I think the addition of chopped walnuts and maybe even some dried fruit would be welcome additions, but, who knew this salad born from a “mistake” would turn out to be such a surprisingly wonderful, and more than edible concoction? It is definitely going to take its place in a rotation of new recipes that our family will enjoy as we keep on learning how to eat to live!