Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grandma Margie's "Meatballs"

I made these as a solution to not really loving any of the other recipes I have tried for "meatballs," and really wanting a version of my mom's traditional meatballs.  The trick is toasting and then processing the pine nuts.  These taste so much like my mom's!!

Grandma Margie’s “Meatballs:"

¼ cup + about a tablespoon pine nuts (a 1.75 oz, whole, small glass container) toasted and processed into crumbs in a food processor
½  a yellow onion, minced
½ cup golden or regular raisins, coarsely chopped if they are large (I used Trader Joe’s Jumbo Raisin Medley, these are some giant raisins!)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 15 oz can of white beans, or two cups cooked
1 cup cooked or canned pinto beans
Juice from about ½ a lemon
About ¼ cup fine bread crumbs (plain)
About ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
½ tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper (I just grind a bunch into the mixture)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (for the bean balls)
And, olive oil for frying

Makes about 25 to 30 small “meat” balls.

In a dry, stainless steel frying pan on medium heat, toast the pine nuts until they are light brown (about 5 minutes or less) stirring constantly.  Once the fat from the pine nuts starts to render, they can easily burn.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Pulse pine nuts in a food processor into fine crumbs.  Set aside in a medium bowl.

Add some oil (about a teaspoon) to the same frying pan.  Sautee copped onion and raisins together with a bit of salt and a few grinds of red pepper flakes (or about 1/8 tsp. if you don’t have the grinder) about 3-4 minutes until onion is soft (but not brown) and raisins are plump.  Put into that same medium bowl with the pine nuts. 

Put the beans and the lemon juice in a separate, large, shallow bowl and mash them with a fork or a potato masher until no whole beans are left (or very few!).  Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well with a fork to incorporate.  It will look, no doubt, exactly like traditional meatball mix.

Using a medium Oxo scoop (1 ½ tbsp) scoop out and roll mixture into your hand, then rolling them into proper balls, placing them on a dish to get them ready to fry up:

Heat a generous amount (about 2-3 tablespoons) of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Add the beanballs when the oil is hot but not smoking.  They should sizzle but not spit hot oil when you put them in.  Cook about 8-9 minutes, carefully turning them so they brown evenly on all sides.  They are delicate, but will definitely hold up.  Drain them on a plate with paper towels when they are done.  I do mine in two batches.   Serve with Marinara sauce and pasta or in a hoagie, sub, wedge, etc.

This pic would have looked a  lot better with some chopped parsley and a lemon wedge, but oh well! 
Looking very forward to any feedback or suggestions!  Enjoy!


  1. Lana uses garbanzo flour as a gluteny egg substitute in her vegan zucchini cakes. You might like to try it in your test kitchen.

  2. Great idea, I'll give it a whirl next time!