Cooking is Cheaper than Therapy: Meat-less Balls

In my attempt to eat less meat, I am always looking for recipes that use vegetables, beans, and nuts instead of soy-based products that you find in the markets. Soy creates all kinds of problems in my digestive system, and will put me down for days. And while we are on soy products, allow me to perch on top of my soapbox, but some of those faux meat products found in a can using artificial coloring and tons of sodium are far worse for you nutritionally than a piece of meat. Okay, now I need a ladder to get down...

I refer to myself as a "convenient vegetarian." There are several meats that I do not eat, and for the most part I don't cook a lot of meat. It's often a luxury item I save for when I go out to dine. Some time ago I ran across a recipe for "meat balls" made with pecan meal or almond meal. I haven't used the almond meal yet, because I have been quite satisfied using pecans. Also, pecan meal is not difficult to find, or you can always grind your own. I took a basic recipe and have added my own touch, but I think that you can almost use your own favorite meat ball recipe and ingredients, and it will be fail proof as long as you don't forget to add the crumbs, eggs, and of course, the pecan meal. The crumbs and eggs are what helps bind.

This recipe makes up to an average of 24 meatballs, and they freeze really well. So when I just want a few, I can take out what I need and give them a nuke in the microwave or let them soak up in my favorite sauces.


2 cloves of garlic, very well minced
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 of olive oil
2 cups of pecan meal (or almond meal)
1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs 
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp. dried basil (optional or use Italian herb seasoning instead of basil and oregano)
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 eggs, well beaten
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes, more or less depending to taste
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute minced onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a light sprinkle of salt to help sweat the onions and garlic until soft. Remove from heat and let cool. 

In a mixing bowl, add: pecan meal, bread crumbs, dried oregano and basil, mozzarella, Parmesan, beaten eggs, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the cooled onions and garlic mixture, and all of the olive oil drippings as this will add moisture to the meat-less balls. Mix well with hands. Form into golf ball size. Place on "Pammed" baking sheet or broiler pan. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until they reach a nice toasty color. If preparing spaghetti and meat balls, transfer the individual balls that you will be using into your favorite warm tomato sauce to soak and simmer. I use my old stand-by, Marcella's Tomato Sauce. Let simmer at least 5 - 10 minutes. If freezing remaining meat-less balls, I typically do not bother with this step until I am ready to use them. 

Also, I have soaked the meat-less balls in my favorite BBQ sauce. If you want to make them more with a Mediterranean feel, don't add the usual Italian-style herbs, but instead add to the mixture some fresh chopped parsley, mint, cumin, and cinnamon. Serve with a yogurt-tzatziki sauce. I don't miss the meat and find them very satisfying. 

Mmm... Meat-less Balls


  1. I've never had pecan meal! These look great. Thanks for adding them to our meatless Monday link up. I approved your link but it would be great if you could please link back to us in your post and also check out the hostess links. Thanks hope to see you again this Monday

    1. Hi Deborah, Thanks for stopping by. I had the Meatless Monday image/link up earlier this week, but it didn't look like my link for the meat-less balls came up so I deleted the link as not to confuse anyone. Glad to see my recipe link made it after all, so I put your Meatless Monday image/link back up. Thanks again. You will enjoy this recipe, in fact I made another batch this week.


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