Black Bean Meatballs
These meatballs are pretty lightly adapted from my black bean burgers, a long time favourite. If you often have leftover rice on hand, and a can of black beans (or freeze cooked beans) then you’re set for this recipe any time.
Brown rice gives structure to these, with a bit of chickpea flour binding and keeping them from being mushy. Coating the meatballs with a bit of olive oil before baking adds a nice crisp outer texture and golden colour. So good.
Sunflower seeds are a common addition to vegan burgers and meatballs because they add texture. If you want to go for extra flavour, you can toast the seeds beforehand. You can also sauté the onion and garlic if you want to but I personally see it as a waste of time that doesn’t add anything in this recipe.
Try serving them with some classic marinara and pasta, or go the route pictured and have them with naan or another bread and some greens. Also great with salad, and especially good in anything with pickled onions. They’re pretty neutral so go nuts. Pictured is a sourdough naan recipe I did for Baked.
The cooked meatballs can be refrigerated for a couple of days, but if you want to freeze them, I recommend freezing the uncooked mixture instead. Just pop it into a sealable container and freeze for up to a month, then thaw and bake as normal when you want them.
Tell me what’s in them so I don’t need to scroll
- Black beans (shocking, I know)
- Cooked brown rice
- Sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- Honey/maple syrup/coconut sugar
- Parsley or another herb you like
No food processor? No problem
I know someone will want to make the meatballs without a food processor, and you definitely can! It’s just a bit more work. You’ll have to very finely chop the onion, garlic, and herbs and place them into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and use a potato masher, immersion blender, or your hands to mash into the texture you see above on the bottom right image.
If you use an immersion blender, make sure you’re pulsing and don’t over blend into straight mush. Same goes for using a food processor, of course. You might be able to use a proper blender, too, but I haven’t tried that and I think it might over mix it. Some texture is absolutely necessary.
I typically only have short grain brown rice in the house, but any type of white or brown rice will work here. Wild rice will not. A bit overcooked and sticky is a good thing in these meatballs! If you don’t have a lemon on hand, use apple cider or white wine vinegar instead.
Chickpea flour is my go-to for binding, as it really acts like an egg, but if you don’t have any you can use rye flour, spelt, or oat – just add an extra tablespoon. I haven’t tried making them with an actual egg mixed in though I think you could add one if you want to fry instead of bake.
Parsley features often here at OE because I have a big patch in my garden that grows year round. Use what you have on hand and what you like. Cilantro, oregano, even basil are all good choices. You don’t need the herbs but they add a nice brightness and make everything a bit more interesting. (And I’ve said it before, but now is really the time to start a garden! PS that’s the first rucola of the season from my garden, too. Exciting!)
No sunflower seeds? Walnuts are a good exchange. Pumpkin seeds are not.
More black bean recipes
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Black Bean Meatballs
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- A large handful of fresh parsley
- 300 grams cooked or canned black beans rinsed
- 200 grams cooked brown rice
- 40 grams sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice ~1/2 a lemon
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour*
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup coconut sugar, or honey
- Extra olive oil for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend the onion, garlic, and parsley on high speed until very finely chopped.
- Add the beans, rice, sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup to the processor. Pulse until a textured mixture forms, with the beans partly broken down but the rice and seeds in large pieces. (See above photo.)
- Let the meatball mixture rest for five minutes before scooping out 12 portions onto the prepared baking sheet. A large cookie scoop is ideal for this, but otherwise about 2 tablespoons worth for each meatball.
- Smooth the balls with the back of a spoon if desired. Brush the outsides of each meatball with a little olive oil.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until quite golden and slightly firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes on the tray before serving. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to three days.