Living with multiple sclerosis, Learning to make the world accessible, Loving life with all of its challenges

Whether it’s a snack, side, or full meal, Italian Style Meatballs are an absolute favorite. However, the red meat that often serves as the base for this dish can weigh down the gut and be a deterrent for those who are looking to cut meat in their diet for various reasons.

This meatless take on the classic dish serves up that same flavor and texture that you expect from a traditional meatball, making you wonder if you’ve actually got a vegetarian option on your plate.

Ingredients for Italian Style Meatballs

Here’s the thing with this recipe – you’ve got a lot of options when it comes to the protein. If you are going for the classic meatball, you can use a pork and beef blend. You could substitute in some ground turkey, or, as we are doing, utilize a plant based protein.

Ingredients for Italian Style Meatballs

Our plant based protein of choice for this dish is the Beyond Beef Plant Based Ground. The texture and flavor shape up closely to a ground beef protein. It also holds the flavors nicely, and when you’re eating it, it’s going to be tough to know you’re not eating a classic style meatball.

Now for the seasoning. This requires some fresh onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and parsley from the produce section. We like a white or yellow onion for the flavoring.

The bread crumb mix, which is what you’ll need to hold the meatballs together, consists of Panko bread crumbs, egg, milk, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

As always, if you can’t find some of the ingredients fresh, you can use pre-packaged or dried, but we love the flavor of those fresh spices in here!

If you are choosing to use a classic meat blend, mix together one pound of ground pork and one pound of ground beef.

Putting Together Your Meatballs

OK, let’s get cooking!

First off, put the Panko breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl and soak the breadcrumbs for 15 minutes.

Warm your oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a dark coated non-stick pan with a non-stick cooking tray or brush with olive oil. The dark colored pan heats faster and allows the top to brown just a little more. If you are using a light colored cooking tray you will want to warm your oven up to 450 degrees.

Heat a cooking skillet to medium. Cook your chopped onion for 2-3 minutes, until they become translucent and soft. Add your garlic for 30-60 seconds, until the aroma releases. Put the cooked onion and garlic mixture aside.

Flavoring Protein for Italian Style Meatballs
Flavoring Protein for Italian Style Meatballs

Put your protein in a bowl. Stir in the onion/garlic mix, bread crumb mixture, eggs, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese with a rubber spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Cooling these in the refrigerator allows them to firm up so they will have a nicer shape when you start to form them.

Once they’re at a cool temp, it’s time to roll them. Lightly moisten or oil your hands so the meat mixture doesn’t stick to them. For consistency, we use a scoop. For this cooking time they meatballs should be about 2 inches across. Of course you can make bigger or smaller ones if you are looking for a certain outcome, but know that the cooking time will need to be adjusted.

Scooping Classic Italian Style Meatballs

Scoop out your meatballs and form into a nice round ball. Place on your oiled cooking sheet about two inches apart from each other.

Place in the oven and cook for ten minutes. Meatballs will be browning on bottom. Turn them over after ten minutes and cook another 15 minutes. Meatballs should be cooked evenly throughout.

Pull out of oven, plate, and serve with your favorite sauce or side!

Interested in more healthy appetizer options? Check out our appetizer page!

Why we love Plant Based Meatballs for MS

There is no real conclusive evidence on the impacts of red meat and multiple sclerosis. Depending on which study you read, some research shows red meat can decrease the impact while others say it increases it.

In his younger years, Dre loved consuming red meat. As his MS progressed he recognized the impacts of MS on his whole body, including his digestive system. Red meat became increasingly challenging to digest, and just as with overusing his other muscles, he would become fatigued after eating a meal heavy with red meat.

As he started exploring meatless options, he recognized the health benefits of eating more plant based options.

This particular recipe allows Dre to enjoy the same consistency and flavor of a traditional meatball, without having the heavy effects of meat on his diet. And if we ever are looking for a meat option? Well, that’s available with these as well! So fire up the oven and let’s get cooking!

Please visit our Resources page if you are interested in finding some of the tools and gadgets Dre uses to make cooking accessible while combatting MS.

Classic Italian Style Meatballs
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Italian Style Meatballs with a Meatless Option!

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 24 min Total Time 54 mins Servings: 15 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Description

Whether it's a snack, side, or full meal, Italian Style Meatballs are an absolute favorite. Adaptive to multiple diets, you can make this a meatless or full meat option, and enjoy all of the flavor in either fashion!

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Soak bread crumbs in milk 10-15 mins

    Soaking Bread Crumbs in Milk
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute onions until translucent, roughly 2-3 minutes. Add Garlic and cook until aroma releases, about 30-60 seconds. 

    Heating Onions and Garlic in Pan
  3. Put Protein in large bowl. Stir in sauteed onion and garlic, bread crumb mixture, eggs, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese into meat mixture with a rubber spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

    Adding Egg to Protein and Breadcrumb Mixture
  4. With damp or oiled hands, mold mixture into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on lightly oiled cooking tray. 

    Putting Classic Italian Meatballs on Cooking Tray
  5. Place in the oven and cook for ten minutes. Meatballs will be browning on bottom. Turn them over after ten minutes and cook another 15 minutes. Meatballs should be cooked evenly throughout.

    Cooking Classic Italian Meatballs
    If you are using a meat based protein, meatballs should temp at at least 165 degrees.
  6. Serve meatballs in with your favorite sauce, on top of pasta, or however you are planning to eat them!

    Classic Italian Meatballs

Pan Fried Stovetop Method

  1. To pan-fry meatballs pour 3/4 cup olive oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat over medium heat.

  2. Cook meatballs in batches (so they aren’t overcrowded) until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 – 6 minutes. Then turn to the opposite side and cook the opposite side until golden brown. Meat protein Meatballs should be 165 degrees at the center. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Note

These are for the basic meatballs. Simmer in your favorite sauce to customize the flavor and serving type…Marinara, BBQ, Sweet and sour, Swedish sauce.

Wrap with croissant strips before baking to make “mummies”

You can add “eyes” by melting slices of string cheese and sliced olives on top.

Keywords: Italian Style Meatballs, Vegetarian Meatballs, Classic Meatballs
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