Easy vegan TVP meatballs! They are very high in protein (almost 30 grams per serving), simple to make with pantry ingredients and also grain-free and gluten-free.
Hooray for fall! After months of blazing heat, suffocating humidity, and malevolent mosquitoes, East Texas is, virtually overnight, a tranquil haven. Praise be! Post-church, Kevin, Nick and I spent most of the day outdoors, wandering through the woods, riding bikes, and blowing bubbles.
The cooler weather has reinvigorated my cooking, too. I’ve been meaning to do some experimenting with TVP (texturized vegetable protein) and today felt like the day to do it.
How to Make Vegan TVP Meatballs
I bought several bags of TVP a few months ago, specifically because Kevin is so protein-oriented; I wanted to figure out some more high-protein, nutritious snacks for him, as well as me and Nicky, that do not involve artificially flavored protein powders and the like.
Kevin looked less than thrilled when he unpacked it (I think the name has something to do with it–TVP and TP are a mere letter away), but conceded to give it a try. It looks a lot like bulgur, if you have never seen it before now.
But nutritious does not spell delicious, so I set to work to add flavor and more flavor. Meatballs were a natural choice for a first-time TVP experiment. Who doesn’t love a meatball? They are great for making ahead and freezing, too.
I looked up about half a dozen recipes for TVP meatballs for a starting point, but quickly decided to take things in my own direction, mostly because very recipe I found had raw flour added to it. Yuck. Who wants a meatball of any variety with flour in it? Not I.
Instead, I approached my TVP meatballs in much the same way as I would any meatball: lots of flavor from herbs, onion and garlic, a binder (flaxmeal “eggs” to keep it vegan), and equally important, salt.
Step 1: Soak the TVP and Flax
The first step is reconstituting the TVP. It’s simple: just add hot water, stir, and let sit for about 10 minutes. The resulting texture is light and fluffy, and has a delicious, nutty aroma (I am so going to develop a power bar with TVP next).
Step 2: Prepare the Aromatics
Next, the aromatics. I used onion, garlic, and Italian herbs (dried). You can change up the herbs (e.g., make these Mexican, Moroccan or Swedish by varying the herbs and spices).
Cook and stir the onions, garlic and herbs until the onions are softened and then add to the bowl of TVP-flax. If you like, add in fresh parsley, too.
Step 3: Pulse in a Food Processor
Every recipe I found for TVP meatballs gave instruction to simply mix the TVP with the other ingredients and press together into balls. I cannot imagine this working, even with added flour, and I noted that reviewers for such recipes remarked that their balls crumbled.
To prevent crumbly balls, I put everything in a food processor and pulsed until the mix started to come together. It still had plenty of texture, and it was a breeze to form into cohesive balls.
Step 4: Shape into Balls
For even meatballs that bake evenly, I reach for my small cookie scoop. This yields perfect 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls with ease.
Step 5: Bake the Meatballs
Last, instead of frying the meatballs, I used the same method I do for meat meatballs: I bake them.
Bake the meatballs on a large baking sheet in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they were golden-brown, firm, and, pardon me for bragging, absolutely, undeniably scrumptious!!!!
Kevin has yet to taste them, but I served them to Nick for dinner, along with some warm marinara to coat and cut spaghetti on the side. As I walked back to the kitchen, Nick yelled, “Mommy, these are YUMMY!!!”
Optional: 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Spray or lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the TVP, flax and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir 5 to 6 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the herbs, salt, and black pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds longer.
Place the TVP mixture, onion mixture, (optional) parsley in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture just begins to hold together.
Shape mixture into 1 inch (2.5 cm) size meatballs ( a small cookie scoop works perfectly).
Arrange balls on prepared sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until browned. Serve as you would any kind of meatball (e.g., with sauce, noodles, as a snack, etc.)
Storage: Store the cooled meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.
Can i know what sort of TVP are you using? is it so, wheat or pea based? thanks !
Sunday 26th of July 2020
These turned out delicious! I would recommend turning or rotating a few times while baking because mine got a bit dark on the bottoms. Otherwise great texture and great flavor! I will definitely be using this as a base recipe to play with spices.
Monday 27th of July 2020
That's great, Mandy! An oldy but a goody. Thanks for sharing your tips, that's wonderful :)
Saturday 11th of April 2020
Can I substitute soy pulp left over after milking soybeans?
Sunday 12th of April 2020
Hi Anjani! Apologies, I really do not know. I am not familiar with soy pulp and really don't know how it compares to TVP. Perhaps you could google to see if it is something others have tried using as a meat substitute?
Thursday 10th of November 2016
I added home made bread crumbs (fennel bread) & omitted cumin. Yummy! I am adding them to a sweet & sour sauce. Also, I did use the flax-egg. I added the extra crumbs to ensure they stuck to their shape.
Sunday 6th of November 2016
I've been making tcp "meatballs" for quite some time using flour (which I will no longer do, thanks to you!) but never had the idea of putting the mixture into a blender. Nor did I ever hear of the flaxen meal mixed with water being used in the place of eggs. It's been an educational experience reading this recipe. Thanks!