March 4, 2011

Homemade Vegan Beanballs

It's been a while since I tested out a homemade fake meat recipe, and a recent post about this blog on Reddit produced this very promising-looking recipe. For those of you who don't feel like following the link, I'm testing out vegan beanballs.

Since I can't seem to follow a recipe without changing a single thing, I used pinto beans instead of kidney beans, since that's what I had in my pantry. Also, I didn't have lemon zest, so I just tossed in a splash of lemon juice. Otherwise, I followed the directions very well. I even weighed out the cooked beans to get the 20 ounces called for. WIth the choice between steak sauce and tomato paste, I opted for the steak sauce (after checking the ingredients to make sure I wasn't tainting my experiment with unauthorized meat - turns out, A1 steak sauce is vegan!)

A Reddit reader pointed out that these work better if you let them rest a bit after mixing and before shaping, so I mixed it all up in the late afternoon and then stuck it in the fridge until dinner time. I figured chilling it would also help things hold together better. The same reader also informed us that these beanballs do not taste like meat, but instead "taste like awesome".

With all this in mind, I started getting ready to cook some spaghetti to go with these beanballs. While the water was coming to a boil, I shaped the beanballs and heated some oil in a pan. When the oil was hot, I popped the beanballs in the pan and started the browning process. After browning them on all sides to get a nice crusty exterior, I took one out of the pan so I could check it before dumping a bunch of sauce on them. The first thing I noticed was that it was very mushy on the inside. Like, refried-beans-mushy. They weren't that mushy before I cooked them, which was rather unexpected. They did hold together reasonably well despite the super mushy interior. Perhaps that's how it was supposed to be? The person who wrote the article with the recipe that I linked to earlier also found them to be mushy, but had used a different quantity of beans.

Aside from the texture, the flavor was pretty good. Imagine mushy beans flavored with steak sauce, and that's about what we had here. The steak sauce flavor was really strong. I think if I make these again, I'd try making them with tomato paste instead, because it was a little weird, but not bad. I also wonder if baking them rather than frying them would result in a firmer texture, but I don't really know why that would be the case.

The experience:
Texture - very mushy inside
Flavor - very steak-saucy as prepared with the steak sauce

Final grade for this attempt: B-


  1. I love the Quorn meatballs and you can just throw them in the microwave or throw them in the hot sauce. I am basically a really lazy cook. They have a good consistency and really great flavor. One thing I have found with all veggie meat - don't cook it too long or too hot. I am basically a really lazy cook. Not sure if they are vegan though.

  2. I don't think anything from Quorn is vegan.

  3. Correct: Nothing from Quorn is vegan because they use egg albumen (the whites) as a binder.