Homemade healthy, vegan, and naturally gluten-free meatballs served in a creamy Thai green curry sauce. Enjoy with a side of jasmine rice and extra toppings of your choice.
Let’s spice up things a little bit today and cook something different, something that brings some sun and warmth to our plate. The weather has been terrible in Chicago lately, with very low temperatures and snow again not later than yesterday (yes on April 19th!!). With all that, we clearly need some new, positive vibes to keep going until spring has finally settled for good. Because yes, spring will come, eventually. To cheer us up, what’s better than a lovely curry dish with warm spices?
I am obsessed with all things spicy in general, especially when they combine sweet and savory flavors as they do in Thai food for instance. Thai cuisine is among my favorite ones indeed, and if I like red curry, I find myself even more into green curry, that is more subtle and suitable to my taste. Unfortunately, green curry are most of the time paired with meat, and in particular chicken, that I almost completely banned from my diet for diverse reasons these last years.
Eating plant-based has simply become a habit for me, hence I stopped ordering my favorite green curry sauce when I go to a Thai restaurant, unless they have other options to suggest instead – tofu most of the time. I do like tofu as you can see in various recipes of mine, such as the PB pineapple tofu rice, spinach & smoked tofu tahini toasts, mango curry tofu or Asian tofu broccoli stir-fry, and it actually works beautifully with a green curry sauce too. So if you’re looking to a variation to this recipe, just go for it.
But today, I was looking for a more “meaty” texture, and the idea of making vegan meatballs kind of stuck to my mind. So I had to try it. I was not really sure of how it would turn out in the end but I did my recipe testings and got – in my opinion – the perfect white vegan meatballs. David’s face when he ate them definitely convinced me: these vegan meatballs really rock. The texture turned out exactly as I expected and I managed to shape the balls easily. If it appears too moist when you try, simply add some chickpea or oat flour until desired consistency. I do not use any bread crumbs at all as I want the recipe to be gluten-free here, but if you are not following such a diet yourself, you can go for it.
Note that I used some sunflower seeds that bring some crunchiness to the veggie balls. If you do not have any, replace with crushed walnuts or cashews instead. Mushrooms finish it all with a chewy texture. As for the seasoning, note here that garlic, tamari and ginger are important in the recipe, and so is black pepper for extra flavor. When your vegan meatballs are ready, place them in the refrigerator to set for 15 minutes. You can skip this step if you are in a hurry but I find the balls easier to handle afterwards when ready for cooking.
Now just a few words about the green curry that I made extremely simple here so that everyone can make it at home. I use Thai green curry paste directly and combine it with coconut milk. The secret? Dip some Thai basil to the sauce for extra flavor. When ready, pour the sauce onto the vegan meatballs and serve with jasmine or basmati rice. Important note: do not pour all the sauce at once over the vegan meatballs if you expect leftovers; it will help you to keep the “meaty” texture of the balls. I hope you enjoy!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 oz (225g) mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup (30g) sunflower seeds
- 1 can (439g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
- ½ cup (40g) grated carrot
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup (25g) oat or chickpea flour
- 1-2 Tablespoons green curry paste
- 2 cans (of 13.5 oz/403 ml each) coconut milk
- ¼ cup (6g) Thai basil leaves
- 1-2 Tablespoons raw cashews (optional)
- 1-2 small red chili, finely sliced
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime slices
- Heat one Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and mushrooms. Cook and stir until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms slightly golden, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In your food processor, place the sunflower seeds, cooled chickpeas, onion-mushroom mixture, grated carrots, ginger, garlic, ground flaxseed, tamari, apple cider vinegar, salt and black pepper. Pulse a few times until everything is combined, but keeping some bigger chunks for texture.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the oat or chickpea flour, mix well and adjust seasoning as needed by adding more tamari or salt. If the texture is still too wet/soft, add more sunflower seeds, oat or chickpea flour.
- Using a cookie scoop, scoop out a bit of mixture and roll into balls onto a small baking tray lined with parchment paper, and place in the fridge to set for at least 15 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, combine green curry paste, coconut milk, and Thai basil leaves. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the meatballs, turning them often until all sides are browned, about 7-8 minutes.
- Pour the warm green curry sauce over, add some raw cashews, extra sliced chili peppers, fresh cilantro, lime slices, and serve immediately with jasmine rice.
Note: The chickpea vegan balls can be prepared a few hours or even a day before, and cooked right before dinnertime.