When you cook for a group of people, there's bound to be at least one or two people who have a dietary restriction. Living in Los Angeles makes these numbers go much higher (go figure). The most common dietary preferences that I deal with are vegetarian, vegan, and whole 30. With every meal, I have to create a version that's suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and whole 30 dieters; it can be a challenge. Luckily for me, I now have a solid collection of vegetarian recipes so that I know I can please at least one crowd. These vegetarian mushroom meatballs in tomato chermoula sauce is one of those recipes. Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I still very much enjoy these meatballs. I can honestly say, I almost don't miss the meat!
Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs in Tomato Chermoula Sauce
- ½ lb shiitake mushrooms
- ½ lb cremini mushrooms
- ½ cup onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup parsley
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ½ cup oats
- ½ cup panko
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup cilantro chopped
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno fresh, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- grated parmesan to finish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Make the mushroom meatballs. In a food processor, pulse together ½ lb shiitake mushrooms, ½ lb cremini mushrooms, ½ onion, 2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup parsley, and ¼ cup cilantro. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl and add ½ cup oats, ½ cup panko, 2 eggs, ½ cup grated parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon cumin. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Form meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are firm.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato chermoula. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepot over medium heat. Add 1 cup cilantro, ½ cup parsley, 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon coriander. Saute until the herbs are softened, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Season the tomato chermoula with salt and pepper.
- Add the mushrooms to the chermoula and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and portion the meatballs into serving bowls. Finish with grated parmesan.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The first time I made these vegetarian meatballs, I was surprised at how much they look like regular meatballs. The color can be deceiving especially after the meatballs have simmered in the tomato sauce. This could potentially be a good way to introduce meat-lovers to a vegetarian diet, just saying.
The process for making these vegetarian mushroom meatballs in tomato chermoula sauce is very similar to regular meatballs in tomato sauce. First, pulse together the mushrooms with the onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. You can chop the ingredients by hand but the food processor just makes life so much easier. Mix together the mushroom mixture with the rest of the seasonings, eggs, oats, and panko. Mushrooms have a lot of water so the oats and panko help soak up the excess liquid.
You'll know if your mushrooms have the right consistency if they can easily be formed into a meatball. If the batter seems too loose, add an extra egg. Before you start making all the meatballs, take a small piece and pan-fry it to check for seasonings. No matter how many times I make these meatballs, I always make sure to taste a small sample before cooking.
I like to use an ice cream scooper to get the meatballs that are all the same size. Roll them into balls, place them on a lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile, make the tomato chermoula. There are different types of chermoula, including one made from herbs and garlic used as a marinade or relish for seafood and this tomato version found in Moroccan dishes. This tomato chermoula is a little spicy and has spices like cumin and coriander which are typical of Moroccan food. Simply put, it's delicious.
Simmer the tomato chermoula, letting all the flavors from the fresh herbs and spices develop flavor. Then, add the mushroom meatballs and simmer for another 5 minutes, letting the mushrooms now soak in all that goodness.
This isn't typical of Moroccan dishes, but I couldn't help but finish the dish with some grated parmesan. We all need a little cheese in our life and these vegetarian mushroom meatballs with tomato chermoula were just calling for it.
I served these meatballs to my husband not telling him they were vegetarian and he thoroughly enjoyed them. Okay, so when you take a bite, you'll notice that it's not meat, but hey! These are still delicious and I stand by them. Mushroom meatballs for the win!
For more meatball inspiration, check out these Tuscan turkey meatballs with sun-dried tomatoes!