Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 23, 2017

lentilwalnutmeatballscranberrysaucevegan-3034

5 from 7 reviews
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Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free

By

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.

Nutrition Information

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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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura November 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm
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!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2017 at 8:02 am

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. :)

Reply

Laura December 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

Hi Angela,I just saw your comment. Thanks for responding! Yes, pulsing the mushrooms in the food processor made them smaller than the “pea-size” in your instructions and I did need to scrape down the bowl a few times (I used a 7-cup KitchenAid food processor; I think my larger food processor would have just made the mushrooms fly around and then stick to the sides of the bowl). I tried the recipe again, chopping the mushrooms by hand and will agree that the finished balls do have more texture when the mushrooms are chopped a bit larger than what was possible for me in the food processor. Either way, this is a great recipe and I think my laziness will win out and I’ll stick with the “everything in the food processor” method. Thank you again!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Hey Laura, Thanks so much for your reply! I totally had the same experience with the processor vs. hand-chopping methods. It’s nice to have two options, anyway!

Reply

Tereza November 30, 2017 at 6:44 am
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.

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 1, 2017 at 7:41 am

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!

Reply

Yulia Elfimova December 1, 2017 at 11:40 pm
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.

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017 at 8:11 am

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

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Olivia December 1, 2017 at 11:46 pm
Recipe Rating:

loved this balls.

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Kay December 3, 2017 at 3:21 am

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!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017 at 7:58 am

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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Kristina Zack December 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

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.)

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017 at 7:50 am

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

Reply

Cindy December 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

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

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

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

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Andrea December 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

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

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ilona December 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm
Recipe Rating:

I’ve been making these since the original recipe was posted a few years back! I also chop the mushrooms in my food processor (pulse in two batches) – works beautifully. Today I made a double batch and stashed them in my freezer (unbaked). Looking forward to serve them for Christmas celebrations….with plenty leftover for workday lunches too :) Thanks for a winning recipe!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 18, 2017 at 7:50 am

Hey ilona, So glad you tried the new version out! I’ll be making these for our Christmas dinner too. Have a great Christmas!

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Frances December 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

Recipe looks great! Two questions, I can’t eat nuts, can I replace it w oatmeal. Secondly, what other sauce can u use rather than suggested or applesauce, can u use a gravy? Going to try for Christmas!

Reply

Frances December 19, 2017 at 7:39 am

I just saw yr recommendation on using yr gravy. Great. Just wondering about the walnut/oatmeal substitution.

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2017 at 8:30 am

Hey Frances, I would probably recommend using finely chopped pepita seeds instead of the nuts. I fear that the oats would absorb too much moisture, and then you wouldn’t have that nice crunch from the nuts too.

Reply

Beth December 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

Thanks for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it. Quick question – my husband has a walnut allergy. Any recommendations for replacing the walnuts?
Happy holidays! Joyeuses fêtes!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am

Hey Beth, Maybe chopped pecans or pepita seeds? I think both of those would be fine. I’d probably opt for pecans!
Happy holidays to you and your family!

Reply

Heiba December 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm
Recipe Rating:

Delicious! A friend and I finished them in nearly one sitting!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 24, 2017 at 8:34 am

haha oh we’ve been there! They are addictive, don’t you think?! So happy you enjoyed them.

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Heather January 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm

These look perfect for holiday cooking! I haven’t yet found a go to recipe for these occasions. My only problem is that I’m not a huge mushroom fan. Is there anything that could be substituted here?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

Hi Heather, Thank you! They are quite festive for sure. I haven’t tried anything aside from mushrooms yet so I’m not entirely sure, but maybe finely grated carrot?

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25 Health Benefit of Honey January 11, 2018 at 11:45 am
Recipe Rating:

Made these for Friday dinner tonight… It was absolutely delicious and wonderful…

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Marit April 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm
Recipe Rating:

My friend brought these for Easter and they were amazing. I am vegan and gluten free and wanted to feel like I was celebrating. Everyone loved them – and I used my leftovers in a salad the next day.

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) April 3, 2018 at 2:44 pm

That’s so sweet of your friend to make these…I’m so glad they were a hit! Good call on adding leftovers to salads. I like adding them to my flax wraps too.

Reply

Caroline June 21, 2018 at 9:36 am

YUM! I plan to make this tonight. I don’t have any sherry vinegar; would apple cider vinegar work, or what would you suggest? Thank you! :)

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) June 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Hey Caroline, I haven’t tried it with another vinegar so I can’t say for sure, but I think ACV might be lovely! I would add just a tiny bit at a time and taste test.

Reply

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