Monday, June 25, 2007

Meatballs... minus the meat!

Now that most of the project has been completed, things are finally starting to slow down around the house and I actually had some time last weekend to throw together lunch, rather than finishing up some of the leftovers in the fridge. I had some soy crumbles in the freezer leftover from another recipe, so I finally got around to making this recipe for Orecchiette with Mini Soyballs that I've been meaning to make.

I was a little apprehensive about making the "meatball" portion of this dish as I've never used these types of crumbles in anything but their ground form (like in a chili or tacos). I figured they would just fall apart and not hold their shape, but they actually did quite well after a short stint in the refrigerator. The soyballs are a mixture of the crumbles, sharp Pecorino Romano, whole wheat breadcrumbs, an egg, fresh garlic and seasonings. Once formed and chilled, they get a nice golden crust after being cooked in a bit of olive oil. Green peas and vegetable broth are added to the same skillet and they cook until everything is thoroughly heated through. While you wait for that to finish, little ear-shaped pasta are cooked and tossed with a fresh and simple mixture of bright lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and thyme. The little pockets in the pasta were just the right size to hold a pea or two, while the dressing was just enough to keep the pasta moist and from sticking together, but it was not very saucy at all. The recipe claims to create a "cheesy" sauce - I'm guessing that is suppose to be from the cheese melting into the dish, but that didn't happen so much for us. Maybe adding some of the starchy pasta water would help with that? If you want to speed things along, you could probably just pick up some already-prepared soy "meatballs" and skip the work, but we thought it was worth the extra few minutes as they really was pretty easy to make and well seasoned.



  1. Where do you find Orecchiette? I've been looking all over for it. Is it usually dried or fresh? I can't wait to make your dish!

  2. Joe, this looks really delicious!!
    I have a question though, the soy crumbles you used were the ones that come frozen? Do you add them to the recipe frozen or do you defrost them first?
    I am meaning to try a VT recipe for "meatless meatloaf" that looked delicous and got great reviews in the blogsphere (the recipe intended for meatloaf sandwiches from the last issue I guess - do you know which one I am talking about?). However, the recipe calls for soy crumbles but doesn't mention if is the frozen kind or not. For the recipe I am talking about you need to mix all ingredients together to form a loaf. I bought the crumbles and they are frozen, so I am guessing I should defrost them first... do you have an idea of how I should proceed?
    I wish they mentioned about the frozen product... or can I actually find crumbles that are not frozen to begin with?
    Sorry to bother you with my doubts here!
    And thanks for the review and the help!!

  3. Anon - I find it in the regular grocery store pasta isle around here - I get the De Cecco Brand!

    Ana - I used the frozen brand. I believe there is a refrigerated version, but I've never used them. In this recipe, you actually heat them in the microwave first, so I just used them from the frozen state. I don't think it would really matter much either way though!

  4. GimmeLean is a popular refrigerated brand of soy sausage crumble that works well in recipes like this. Most major grocery stores sell it.