Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

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5 from 3 reviews
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Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free

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My recipe tester Nicole likes to call these “bread-free stuffing balls,” and I think I would have to agree! These festive bites have all the flavours of traditional stuffing, but they’re protein-packed, bite-sized, and gluten-free, to boot. This is a new and improved version of my popular Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls recipe. I've streamlined the procedure and provided a make-ahead version to simplify holiday prep. You can store the uncooked balls in the fridge (tightly wrapped up on a plate) for up to 36 hours before baking, so there's less fuss the day of a big meal. The uncooked balls can also be frozen in a freezer-safe bag for 1 to 2 weeks. To bake, simply pop the frozen balls on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 33 minutes (they need roughly 7 to 10 minutes more bake time when baking from frozen). Also, the Cranberry-Pear Sauce can be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance and frozen until ready to use. If you aren't a cranberry fan, my vegan gravy from Oh She Glows Every Day is a nice option too!

Yield
14 to 15 balls
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce/225 g) package cremini mushrooms**
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (50 g) stemmed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (100 g) walnuts halves*
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12.5 mL) sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground flax
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) water
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Cranberry-Pear Sauce:
  • 2 cups (210 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large ripe (230 g) pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
  • Small pinch fine sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the oil into a large pot and turn heat to medium. Finely chop the mushrooms until they’re roughly the size of peas. Add chopped mushrooms to the pot along with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined. Sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the water from the mushrooms cooks off.
  3. Meanwhile, tear the kale into large pieces and place into a food processor. Pulse (do not process) the kale until finely chopped (roughly the size of peas or almonds), being sure not to overprocess it. Remove and place into a small bowl for later.
  4. To the processor (no need to clean it out), add the rolled oats. Process the oats until they’re finely chopped and resemble coarse flour, about 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. To the oat flour, add the drained lentils and walnuts. Pulse the mixture, stopping to check on it every few pulses, until it’s coarsely chopped. Be sure not to overprocess it into a paste as you still want a lot of texture and crunchy walnut pieces. Set aside.
  6. To the pot with the mushrooms and garlic, add the herbs and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the kale and chopped dried cranberries, then turn off the heat.
  7. Combine the flax and water in a small cup and stir (no need to let it sit).
  8. To the pot, add all of the food processor mixture, vinegar, and flax mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  9. With lightly wet hands, shape and roll about 14 to 15 balls, roughly 2 1/2 tablespoons each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet about two inches apart.
  10. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden on the bottom and firm to touch. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
  11. While the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls are baking, make the Cranberry-Pear Sauce. Add the cranberries, pear, and maple syrup into a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until thickened. Use a potato masher to mash up the pear near the end of cooking, if desired.
  12. Leftover balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. To reheat, add oil into a skillet and fry over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until heated through.

Tips:

* You can toast the walnuts beforehand, but this step is totally optional. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) and toast the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet for 9 to 12 minutes, until lightly crisped and fragrant.
** You can save a tiny bit of chopping time by buying sliced mushrooms instead of whole. You’ll still need to dice them up finely, but it’ll go a little faster with the first chop already done for you!

For my make-ahead tips, be sure to read them in the headnote!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura November 26, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I made these today and really enjoyed them! They’re super-easy – I had pre-cooked lentils ready to go (used 1.5 cups). I just used the food processor to chop the mushrooms. I didn’t have cranberries, so used raisins and actually just added them to the food processor at same time as the lentils and walnuts to chop them. These came together super-well – sometimes it’s difficult to get burgers/meatballs to stick together, but these were perfect, and delicious. Thank you!

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2 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2017

Hey Laura, Oh I’m so glad you made them and enjoyed them! Thanks for the great review. I love your extra time-saving hacks too. I’ll be adding in the dried cranberries in that step next time!
I also tried chopping the mushrooms in the food processor as a first step (pulsing), but I found my machine chopped the mushrooms too small (which made the balls have less texture) and it was quite inconsistent in terms of size. That could just be my machine though. :)

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3 Tereza November 30, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I also want to report on how great this recipe is. Made the balls last weekend (not that we celebrate Thanksgiving in my country, but they just sounded so appealing:). I followed the recipe exactly, only used my Vitamix instead of food processor which I do not own. The result was more than satisfying and next week I will be definitely preparing the balls for my family lunch as I believe they will like them as well. Many thanks for the recipe.

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4 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 1, 2017

Hi Tereza, Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m so happy you love them so much. It’s so great to know that it worked in the Vitamix too. It just occurred to me that you can “pulse” the on/off button with a Vitamix!

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5 Yulia Elfimova December 1, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Made these for Friday dinner tonight… It was absolutely delicious and wonderful. It felt like turkey dinner without turkey. My family loved it! Served it with boiled rainbow potatoes and brussel sprouts -very simple, so so so good! Thank you for this recipe.

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6 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017

This makes me so happy to hear, Yulia! Thanks for trying them out.

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7 Olivia December 1, 2017
Recipe Rating:

loved this balls.

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8 Kay December 3, 2017

I made these on Friday and used the food processor to chop the mushrooms, too, to save time. I don’t like dried cranberries, so I chopped frozen whole cranberries (again, in the food processor!) and it was a very easy dinner. I was too lazy to make the sauce, but I had some applesauce on hand and used that! Thanks for an easy, delicious, Christmasy dinner!

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9 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017

Hey Kay, Oh I love your applesauce idea. Good call. I’m so glad these were a hit! Thanks for letting us know.

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10 Kristina Zack December 6, 2017

Lingonberry preserves would also be excellent here. I plan on adding allspice and nutmeg, just like my grandmother used to add to her Swedish meatballs. (Walnut farmer here, so I’m always looking out for ways to use up the gallon bags of walnut meats I’ve got in the freezer this time of year.)

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11 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017

Hi Kristina, Oh that sounds so good. I’ll have to try this next time. Enjoy those walnuts!

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12 Cindy December 7, 2017

These are so delicious ! I made them for Thanksgiving and they will be served at Christmas. You rock!

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13 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017

Hey Cindy, I’m so happy you love these as much as I do. Merry Christmas!

Reply

14 Andrea December 11, 2017

These look SO good! I’ll definitely need to give them a try for the holidays ♥

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