Jan 25, 2015

Winter Vegetarian Meatballs

Some time ago I published a recipe for Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs. Their meaty flavor and wonderful texture lent the vegetarian preparation a wonderful structure and complex taste. In the northern hemisphere however, eggplant only grows naturally in summer, so I decided to make a winter version of this recipe, using broccoli as the base.

image © vegetariantimes
Powerfully rich in antioxidants, minerals and other cancer-fighting nutrients, broccoli were also appreciated in ancient times. Greeks and Romans ate raw cruciferous vegetables before banquets and orgies to help the body tolerate alcohol. Broccoli have since then become hugely popular thanks to their scientifically proven health benefits.

Perhaps the only negative associated with broccoli is the foul sulphur smell released during cooking. But if you know a little chemistry –– or listen to your Nonna's advice –– there's a trick to avoid that vile smell.

Want to know what it is? Learn how to make winter meatballs with broccoli first.

500 g (1 lb) broccoli
4 medium potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
A pinch of ground nutmeg
1 egg
50 g (1/4 cup) Parmigiano, grated
3 tbsp breadcrumbs + more for dredging
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, or other seeds (I use a mixture of chia, poppy and black sesame)
Extra virgin olive oil

I cook my broccoli vegetarian meatballs in the oven, but you can opt to fry them in a pan. In that case, add 3 tbsp of peanut oil to your ingredient list.

Trim the broccoli without discarding the leaves, they are highly nutritious and tasty.
Steam the broccoli and potatoes until fork soft and allow to cool briefly. To avoid the nasty smell of cooked broccoli, all you have to do is add the juice of 1 lemon to the steamer!

Preheat oven at 180°C (350° F) –– if you'll not be frying.

In a mixing bowl and using the tines of a fork, smash the broccoli and potatoes, combining them. Add the egg, the cheese and 3 tbsp of breadcrumbs.

Shape balls the size you want using your wet hands and flatten them out slightly.

Dust the surface of a flat dish or tray with breadcrumbs and your assortment of seeds, and dredge the vegetarian meatballs.

If you'll be frying, use a cast iron skillet and fry the vegetarian meatballs in batches; otherwise line a baking dish with parchment paper drizzled with a thread of olive oil and bake the vegetarian meatballs for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serve with a crisp salad; mashed broad beans and artichokes; or a simple tomato dipping sauce. The red wine should flow in abundance.


  1. Ciao Eleonora! I always thought my mamma could make polpette out of anything but she never made them out of vegetables! I love the idea! I can't wait to try this. Grazie for the recipe!! Buona Giornata

  2. Yummy recipe - would love to try!
    So happy to see your comment on my blog - thanks for visiting dear Lola! xx

  3. This recipe looks delicious! The sesame seeds are a great touch :) Must try!

  4. I like this very much. Thinking about the dipping sauce, maybe plum sauce it not a bad idea. And Also thinking to make this with tofu, it should be not bad too. :)