Crock Pot Vegetarian Pesto & Walnut “Meatballs”

Ok, I know what you are thinking – vegetarian meatballs? Hear me out – these turned out AWESOME. I’ve officially been vegetarian for one month now and I’m going strong. I thought I was going to eat some meat occasionally, but I really don’t have any interest. It probably isn’t helping that I’m in the middle of two food books right now – The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Politics.  As you can imagine, they are in no way critical of the industrialization of food production and applaud our treatment of animals. SO, I wanted to try this meatball recipe in America’s Test Kitchen both Vol. 1 and 2 and decided to find a way to make it vegetarian. It was shockingly easy. This recipe is in two parts because I made my own pesto. Here we go!

Homemade Pesto

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

Add all four ingredients to a food processor and pulse.

Then onto the vegetarian pesto, walnut, soy crumble balls!

Crock Pot Vegetarian Pesto & Walnut Meatballs
Crock Pot Vegetarian Pesto & Walnut Meatballs
A delicious vegetarian answer to meatballs.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours, 0 minutes

Yield: 5-6

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz frozen vegetarian crumbles, thawed (I use Morningstar Farms Griller Recipe Crumbles)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, pulsed
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup fresh pesto (see above recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
First, make the pesto. Then set aside. Next, thaw the vegetarian crumble. I used the microwave, but stove top would work too. Pulse the walnuts and add those to the crumble in a bowl. Mix in the pesto, Parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper. Pour the tomato sauce and water on the bottom of the Crock Pot. Then roll the mix into balls and place them in the Crock Pot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. The meatballs will look dark on top - then you know they are done. Turn the Crock Pot off and unplug and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Otherwise they'll crumble. Serve over pasta or on their own.

 

"Meatball" Mixture
This is what the “meatball” mixture consistency should look like.
"Meatballs" in Crock Pot
Here are the “meatballs” before I started cooking them.

 

Review: If you have a food processor, this is the easiest recipe ever! These turned out way better than I thought they would. I have plenty for lunches for the week. I will definitely make these again!

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