PREP TIME: 15 minutes (not including time to make Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara Sauce)
ACTIVE TIME: 55 minutes
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms (or button mushrooms), diced
One 15-ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¾ cup vegan panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if necessary), plus more if needed
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or use more bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (use coconut aminos to be soy-free)
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce,
12 ounces spaghetti or other pasta (gluten-free if necessary), optional
4 cups store-bought vegan marinara sauce
1. Heat the olive oil in a large shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are browned and tender and the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a food processor along with the beans and parsley and pulse until combined and the mixture is mostly uniform, but still a bit chunky.
2. Transfer to a large bowl along with the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir with a spoon or use your hands to make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined. It should stick together when squeezed. If it’s still too wet, add more bread crumbs.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
4. Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Use your finger to press a little hole in the middle and shape the mixture into a tiny “bowl.” Scoop ½ to ¾ teaspoon of the cheese sauce into the “bowl.” Take another tablespoon of the meatball mixture, shape it into a ball, then slightly flatten it into a “dome.” Place the dome on top of the meatball bowl, then use your fingers to seal the edges and shape it again into a ball. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining mixture.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
6. While the meatballs are in the oven, cook the pasta (if using): Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
7. Heat the marinara sauce while the meatballs are baking.
8. Serve the meatballs on their own, covered in sauce, or on top of the pasta. Leftover meatballs and sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
It’s best to use the cheese after it’s been cooked and allowed to rest for a while (or even chilled). If you have some leftover cheese it would be perfect for this dish since it’s already thickened and firmed up a bit. If you don’t have any leftover cheese, make it while you’re cooking the vegetables (step 1) and let it rest or chill until ready to use.