Many of you transitioning into plant-based eating and/or vegan lifestyle may feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with all the details, discouraged with too many restrictions, and crushed by the broader society that has not adjusted to support our growing plant-based eating habits. I get it – I’ve been there!
What helped me are some excellent cookbooks that provided initial inspiration, especially the America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody“, and an entire community of vegan blogs and bloggers that I discovered – Finding Vegan. Over time, plant-based cooking and eating stopped being about the restrictions and things you can’t eat, and became about the abundance of ingredients and flavors.
Trying new recipes and ideas remains one of my favorite things to do, and I am always on a lookout for the latests cookbooks. The “From the Kitchen of YamChops” by Michael Abramson is the newest of my acquisitions. If you don’t know about YamChops, let me give some background. YamChops is a plant-based butcher shop, and when it opened in 2014 it was the first of its kind in Canada, and at that time one of only a handful vegetarian butcher shops in North America. Since then, YamChops has become well-known in Toronto, where it is located, and beyond, even earning a spot in USA Today’s list of 10 Best Gourmet Stores. They now offer lots of their products for sale on their website for those of you who live in Canada.
For the rest of us outside Canada, we now have the “From the Kitchen of YamChops” to fall back to and re-create the tastes at home. As could have been expected for a cookbook celebrating the vegan butchers in all of us, the opening chapter is all about meatless main dishes, with a range of burgers, meatballs, steaks, and even a schnitzel! There’s lots of comfort food recipes in there, and I highly recommend giving their Butternut Squash Cheeze ‘n’ Mac Casserole a try – it was delicious!!!
The story does not end at main dishes, and you will find a lot of great recipes for appetizers (including four different “ba-con” recipes – my favorite is coconut flakes ba-con, but that may change as I am looking forward to trying shiitake mushroom ba-con next), soups, salads, sauces, chutneys, dips and dressings. The final chapter is one big homage to chocolate, so your sweet tooth will not remain unsatisfied!
Out of many options, I decided to test a simple meatball recipe. My cooking is not only plant-based, but as gluten-free as possible, so recipes with gluten are a bit of a no-go for me. So, Black Bean Meatless Meatball recipe was definitely appealing because it is naturally gluten-free (if you get the right oats, so do read your labels carefully), and uses common ingredients that I always keep on hand. This made the prep easy and convenient, and these meatballs came together in a snap. You can see the full recipe below, courtesy of “From the Kitchen of YamChops” by Michael Abramson, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.
Basically, I followed the recipe as provided, and everything came together really well. The meatballs were the right consistency, not too sticky, and not too loose, and came out moist and flavorful. The recipe is also perfect for those who are trying to cut down on their oil and fat consumption because it does not use any!
Having said that, there is one adjustment that I plan to incorporate next time I make these and that’s to sauté the green onions, red pepper and garlic for couple of minutes before mixing them in with the rest of ingredients. I found that these three components were a bit undercooked for my taste and the baking was not able to get the nice caramelized onion/garlic/pepper flavor that I prefer.
But, even without this minor change, these meatballs get a thumbs up! They were easy to make, the recipe yielded quite a good amount, and overall it is very budget friendly. So, definitely worth keeping on hand especially on busy evenings. I look forward to trying some of the other recipes included in “From the Kitchen of YamChops” by Michael Abramson, and if I am ever in Toronto again, I will definitely stop by and feast on what YamChops has to offer!!!
Black Bean Meatless Meatballs
(Makes 2 Dozen (2 ounce) Meatballs)
What you’ll need:
½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp egg replacer mixed with 3 tbsp (45 ml) water
1/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup diced red pepper
3 tbsp salsa, homemade or store-bought
3 small cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
Large pinch cinnamon
Large pinch black pepper
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Pulse the rolled oats 3 or 4 times in a food processor. Add the rinsed beans and continue to pulse until the beans are roughly chopped. You want to keep some texture in the beans, so be sure not to over-process them.
- Whisk the egg replacer and water together until smooth and set it aside to rest for a couple of minutes.
- Empty the contents of the processor into a large bowl and add the corn, onion, red pepper, salsa, garlic, cumin, oregano, basil, paprika, cayenne, salt, cinnamon and pepper. Mix together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Your hands are the best tool for this job.
- Add the egg replacer mixture, and mix everything together until the egg replacer mixture is fully incorporated.
- Take a small handful of the mixture, a little bigger than a golf ball, and form it into a fairly tight-packed ball. If the mixture holds together, you’re good to go. If the mixture is too wet, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of pulsed rolled oats. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. At YamChops, we use a 2 ounce scoop to measure these meatballs.
- Place the formed meatballs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in your preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Gently turn the meatballs every 5 minutes to ensure even browning.
Recipe reprinted with permission from “From the Kitchen of YamChops” by Michael Abramson, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018. No further re-publishing allowed without explicit permission of the original content creators.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this cookbook through a community of vegan bloggers. This did not influence my views about the recipes I tried thus far and mentioned above.