Mock Meat for Vegan Meatballs and Burgers

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So I have been working on perfecting this recipe for many months now, and I think I have the final version down! This recipe produces a great texture with the addition of walnuts which gives it a mouth feel of really tender meat. The seasonings are key to the great taste, so I wouldn’t recommend substitutions in this case as a general meat substitute. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own meal specific versions (think, Southwest, Cajun, Chinese, etc.). You may find success swapping the black beans with pinto and the brown rice with white rice or quinoa or pecans for the walnuts, but I can’t guarantee it because I haven’t tried it yet.

Making plant-based versions of ground meat to use in recipes is fairly easy and will take you around 1 hour from start to finish. However, if you wish to make just the mix and freeze it, you are only looking at about 20 minutes of work. I recommend doing this whenever you have the time and ingredients, so that you can throw together meals at a moments notice. Keeping your freezer stocked with this will make your life much easier! For example, we love to serve this recipe as “meat” balls in soups and stews, or as fillings in wraps. I also can quickly “grill” some burger patties for last minute veggie burger nights. Just keep your mixture wrapped in wax paper before placing it in a bag to prevent it from sticking. For the patties, shape them and separate with wax paper on top and bottom and freeze in bags, adding however many patties you need for one family meal so you are only thawing the amount you need. For “meat” balls, shape and freeze on a flat surface until they are set before moving them to a larger container or bag (your aim is to prevent sticking). If the balls are frozen correctly, you can just store them in a large container in the freezer and only remove how many you want for your meal.

Kitchen Equipment Needed:

The Recipe


Olive Oil Spray

2/3 cup purple onions

16 oz mushrooms (white and portabella are best for a general mock meat taste), diced

1 cup cooked short grain rice (brown gives the best texture)

1 cup drained cooked black beans

1 cup bread crumbs (easy to make your own by toasting and then pulsing bread)

1/2 cup walnuts, pulsed until crumbles (this helps mimic the meat texture)

2 Tbsp tamari or coconut aminos

1/4 cup vinegar (balsamic or rice wine or apple cider; balsamic has a deeper flavor)

1 Tb ginger syrup or maple syrup

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 cup ground flax seed

2 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional; they lend a chewy mouthfeel)

1/4 tsp salt (more to taste as desired)

1/4 tsp pepper (more to taste as desired)

Prep and Cooking Steps:

  1. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and sauté your onion over medium heat for about 1 minute, then continue with a steam fry method until translucent and tender, about 3 more minutes. Add in your mushrooms and garlic at this point and sauté until browned, about 5 more minutes (but up to 8 depending on pan thickness). Move around the pan with a heat safe spatula to keep from burning. If you prefer a stronger garlic taste, add the garlic in step 2 instead.
  2. Add in your tamari, vinegar, syrup, paprika, and salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the mushrooms resemble meat crumbles (but not until dried out). Cool for at least 10 minutes before following the next steps.
  3. In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the cooked rice, 1/2 cup of the cooked beans, the cooked and cooled mushroom mixture, the walnuts, flaxseed meal, and 1/2 cup of the dried bread crumbs. Pulse until well combined. It is OK if it is somewhat chunky.
  4. Transfer the mixture from the above step into a large mixing bowl and add in the remaining 1/2 cup of cooked rice, 1/2 cup of cooked and drained beans, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, and hemp seeds and stir until combined. Taste this and adjust the salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Form into patties or balls, depending on your recipe.
  6. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or grill pan until browned on all sides, approximately 5-6 minutes per side. Initially, the mixture will stick firmly to the pan, but once browned will be easy to move and flip.
These are the “meat” balls going on a cast iron flat skillet which has been coated in cooking spray to prevent excess sticking.
Served in a kabocha squash soup.

Bon Appétit!

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