Spaghetti and Meatballs


Since I started a new job with a longer commute six months ago, I've been trying to find recipes that are freezer-friendly. The idea is that I can have most of the hard work done in advance and be able to just pop something in the oven for a few minutes when I get home from work, for a healthy, wallet-friendly version of "fast" food. One of the dishes I have had the most success with freezing has been these meatless meatballs, as adapted from Chef Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Italian Kitchen cookbook. I have made these meatballs several times but never before with the intention of freezing them. I'm so pleased to say that the meatballs were just as delicious, and maybe even more delicious, after being frozen beforehand.

I whipped up these meatballs one lazy Sunday afternoon in preparation for a busy work week ahead. The "meat" consists of mostly mushrooms and rice, which is processed together and then lightly fried in vegetable oil (see instructions below). When we were ready to eat them, I put them directly in the oven from frozen and baked them on 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Even though they lack an egg as a binding ingredient, freezing seemed to help them stay together better, and I actually preferred the baked taste to the just-fried taste. It made them seem a little bit more like Mom's meatballs from my youth.

I'd highly recommend keeping a couple dozen of these puppies in the freezer for a quick and easy way to add a new dimension to regular-ol' pasta night. They are filling, tasty, and easy to make - not to mention very pantry friendly! Check it out...


Instructions
Last Sunday, I chopped up one package of mushrooms, one yellow onion, and one clove of garlic, and sauteed over medium heat until soft and lightly browned. Then, I added the mixture to a food processor, along with some pre-cooked rice (I use Uncle Ben's Ready Rice for ease), flour, bread crumbs, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. I pulsed until it came fully together (I had to split the mixture into two halves to process because my food processor isn't big enough to thoroughly mix that much). Then, I formed the mixture into balls 1-2 inches in diameter and set aside on a plate. After heating up a pan with vegetable oil, I fried the balls for about 3 minutes on each side, or until browned with a nice crust. Once the meatballs were drained on paper towels and at room temperature, I lined them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a few hours, and then transferred them to a plastic bag (labelled with the date and contents) for longer-term freezing. 

Today, I took them out and placed on a cookie sheet, and baked for 20-30 minutes on 375 degrees, flipping over half way through cooking. I boiled up some spaghetti and warmed up some jarred tomato sauce, and served with a bit of spinach. Today's meal couldn't have been easier!


Ingredients
1 8oz package of mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I recommend Uncle Ben's Ready Rice)
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper
1/2 box spaghetti
1 jar tomato sauce
Some spinach to serve (optional)

Perfect for 2! 



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