Ever since Brittany and I brought home a second place win at the Richmond Vegetarian Festival Food Fight Iron Chef style cooking competition, I’ve been thinking about how to make our vegan nut meat into meatballs. I have to give Brittany credit for introducing me to nut meat, which is basically coarsely ground walnuts, seasoned to taste like ground beef. All alone, nut meat probably isn’t fooling anyone into thinking they’re eating real meat. However, the taste and texture definitely resemble meat when you use this ingredient in tacos, casseroles, and anything with a sauce.
I did some research on nut meatballs (hehe) but wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger on recipe testing until I settled on a creative sauce. It all came together for me when I planned the next vegetarian beer dinner in the same week that I tasted Xocoveza Mocha Stout. This beer smells remarkably like Mexican hot chocolate, and I could not get enough of the smooth, rich taste when I tried it on draft at The Beer Mongers in Portland, Oregon last month. I was immediately inspired to pair this delicious Mexican Chocolate Stout with Meatballs in a Mole Sauce at our next beer dinner.
Xocoveza Mocha Stout is a collaboration between Stone Brewing, Cervezeria Insurgente, and home brewer Chris Banker. I’ve tried a few different attempts at a Mexican Chocolate Stout, including Kyle’s own winter 2012 home brew, which was a Mexican chocolate milk stout, as well as some variations from popular microbreweries that have hit the market over the last two years. This is the only one that I have tasted that really nailed the aroma and taste of Mexican hot chocolate with a hint of coffee.
For the food pairing, I wanted to make sure that I brought in the same chili and chocolate flavors in the sauce as well as the meatballs themselves. I used Annette Ramke and Kendall Scott’s Walnut Meat-Less Balls recipe posted on Nava Atlas’ VegKitchen as a base recipe, then I gave it my own twist. I recommend you do the same, swapping spices to get different flavors and to put your own spin on this great base recipe for vegan nut meatballs.
Vegan Meatballs in a Sweet and Spicy Mole Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons wheat germ
- 3 Tablespoons rolled oats
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 Tablespoons tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic for 4-5 minutes, until soft. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- When cooled, add onions, mushrooms and garlic to a food processor. Add remaining meatball ingredients (walnuts through black pepper) to the food processor and blend until smooth.
- Form mixture into small balls and place on cookie sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. Uncover, flip meatballs and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- While meatballs are baking, make the mole sauce. Heat all ingredients in medium sauce pan for 10 minutes on low-medium until chocolate is melted and sauce is bubbling. Ladle over meatballs and serve warm.