Broccoli Meatballs, Two Ways

IMG_5818IMG_5824 Although I may have strayed from my staunch veganism, I haven’t gone far.  I’m still eating and cooking just as many, if not more, vegetables as ever before.  These meatballs are a fun way to sneak in more veggies and a very different take on broccoli than your typical steamed variety.  I’m a big fan of sneaking vegetables into the most likely of places, like greens in a meatloaf or cauliflower in an otherwise decadent dip.  These meatballs fit that bill, and I imagine they’d go over well with picky eaters and kiddos alike. As a kind of homage to my very veggie roots, I’m posting a vegetarian version, which is adapted from a recipe by my beloved Vegetarian Times magazine, as well as a version made with grass fed beef.  The recipe makes at least a dozen pretty substantial meatballs, so you could feasibly whip up half a batch of each and pit them against one another in a taste test.  We did that, actually.  And while they were both good, like really really good, my boyfriend and I agreed that the vegetarian version was a clear winner. Makes about 12 large meatballs

For the vegetarian version:
4 cups broccoli, steamed until tender (about 10 minutes), then cooled
1 cup raw almonds, pulsed into a rough meal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350F. Pulse the steamed broccoli in the food processor until well chopped but not mushy. Add the chopped herbs, onion, garlic and spices to the food processor and pulse a few more times, until uniform. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the ground almonds and parmesan.  Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then add those in as well and combine.You may want to use your hands here to make sure everything is uniform. Shape the mixture into 12 balls, either eyeballing it or using an ice cream scoop to measure them out.  Press them together by hand and smooth over. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush the tops with olive oil and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

For the omnivore version:
2 cups broccoli, steamed until tender (about 10 minutes), then cooled
1 pound ground grass fed beef
1 cup raw almonds, pulsed into a rough meal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
2 eggs

Follow the same instructions, adding the ground beef at the same stage as the almonds and cheese. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F. Serve either version, or both, over brown rice pasta or spaghetti squash with a good dollop of marinara, homemade or not.

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