Gluten-free Vegetarian Tofu Meatball Recipe

Being a savory-type girl, when we stay in for Valentine’s Day, I tend to concentrate on the savory meal and the dessert is usually something of an afterthought. I know, I know, I have it backwards, but to me nothing says I love you like a hearty, home-cooked vegetarian meal cooked from scratch based around my DH’s favorite ingredients. I must love him an awful lot, because we often have those. Just one of the perks of having a gluten-free wife, I suppose. This might surprise you, but one of my husband’s favorite things is tofu. It is unexpected, as he didn’t grow up eating tofu, but he is something of an adventurer and world-traveler and perhaps his experiences overseas inclined him to like the stuff. Being married to a vegetarian wife for nine years who has an entire arsenal of tofu recipes probably helped as well. When introducing friends and loved ones to tofu I usually start off gently with my famous sesame-soy marinated grilled tofu. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t love this recipe. At dinner parties I tend to serve it as the protein accompaniment to some creamy risotto, maybe with grilled mushrooms, artichokes, and onions as vegetable sides. For those who are on speaking terms with tofu, I serve my Southern Fried Tofu, usually with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower), french bread, or rice, with some savory vegan gravy. This is another fabulous recipe that just about everyone loves. It is just so savory and delightful, like all the best parts of fried chicken, blessedly without the chicken. But for a really special occasion, I have been known to bust out this time-intensive but absolutely worth the investment recipe for tofu meatballs for my tofu enamored husband. Because he is worth it. I’ve also made this recipe most recently for Baby Yum and myself, because we are worth it, and food is, as they say, love. So, whether cooking for yourself, your loved ones or an entire houseful of guests, this is one very special recipe that I hope you enjoy.

I have adapted it to be gluten-free and a bit more savory from a rather dated and, I’m sorry to say, out of print edition ofThe Great American Tofu Cookbook that promises to teach the reader to use “the Orient’s Amazing Protein Food in America’s Favorite Dishes.” Oh dear. However dated the tagline, the author has some very creative ideas about using tofu, and we’ve enjoyed several recipes from the book including Tofu Strips with spicy peanut sauce and a rather stellar Tofu with Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce. What can I say, we like our tofu. And I hope you will enjoy this recipe too, brought to you with love from all of us at the Book of Yum. Happy Valentines Day! It is perfect for a night of spaghetti love. Re-enactment of a gluten-free vegetarian version of a certain “Lady and the Tramp” scene, anyone? If you have any leftovers, you can serve it on gluten-free french bread in a subway sandwich. Delightful! What is your favorite vegetarian main dish for Valentines Day, or other romantic holidays?

By the way, the tofu meatballs are pictured on Mrs. Leeper’s Organic Corn Spaghetti, a favorite with our whole family.

Entered in Diane’s Real Food Weekly Event and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Tofu Ganmo Ball Recipe
2 lbs firm tofu, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole green onions, sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 1/4 tsp salt
generous amounts of freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)
1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, made in a food processor
1 1/2 tsp italian seasonings
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
more freshly ground pepper

2 or 3 tbsp. olive oil
pasta sauce
A few large mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)

fresh basil for serving
additional grated parmesan or romano (or dairy-free cheese) for pasta

Slice tofu horizontally and wrap in kitchen towels and put a cutting board on top of the wrapped tofu. Put something on top of the cutting board, like a pot, for additional weight. Leave it to drain for 20 minutes. Then wrap it in a clean thin cotton dishtowel, knead it and squeeze as much water out of it as possible.

Knead the tofu in a large bowl for five minutes and then add the garlic, green onions, fennel seeds, parsley, salt, pepper, and cheese. Knead it for another few minutes. Whisk the egg and work it into the tofu dough.

Combine the ground bread crumbs, spices and pepper in a large flat bowl or pie pan. Make small, walnut-sized balls out of the tofu dough and roll each ball in the dough.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron pan on medium and fry your tofu ganmo meatballs on each side until golden brown. I like to freeze half the recipe and save it for another time.

Then simmer in pasta sauce for an hour or more so it absorbs the flavors. If you like you can add thinly sliced fresh mushrooms to the pasta sauce and let them simmer along with the tofu meatballs.

Serve on gluten-free french bread with fresh basil leaves or on gluten-free spaghetti, sprinkled with additional grated cheese and julienned basil.

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8 Responses to “Gluten-free Vegetarian Tofu Meatball Recipe”

  1. We love tofu here too!! I had never eaten before I was about 22 but I had an Asian boyfriend in college who taught that tofu was edible and then 6 months later I met up with my no husband who taught me that tofu can taste great! And we love the sesame soy tofu steaks, they are one of our go-to recipes and we have also found that non-veg, tofu-haters even like a few bites of these! And of course, the southern fried….yummy. In fact I just recommended it to Scrumptious over at In My Box today as she had made some cornmeal crusted tofu that made me think of the southern fried. We love the southern fried too. As well, I think it was you that taught me to dry-fry my tofu in a cast ion skillet to make it even tastier.
    Do you have a tofu press? I keep seeing them online and think that I might like one…what do you think?
    We probably won’t have anything special for V Day…maybe a new recipe from the arsenal…we’ll see. We don’t do anything for the holiday.
    Awesome post – it’s bookmarked!

  2. Your dinner parties sound wonderful! I grew up eating tofu (my stepdad made awesome breaded tofu, among other things), so I’m used to it, but I’m sure even someone who wasn’t so psyched about it would enjoy this recipe.

  3. Wow you are so creative. Thank you for sharing this on Real Food Weekly.

  4. I tried these tofu meatballs today – they were delicious! I didn’t have time to press them for longer than a couple of minutes, so they were a bit wetter than I would have liked. I added another egg, and that helped a lot! Overall, great recipe! I can’t wait to try more!

  5. Who doesn’t love meatballs? Tofu? What a great idea and this recipe looks really good.

  6. Hey Sea, quick question… can I use a flax egg instead of the real thing. My daughter has several food allergies and egg happens to be one of them. She has been asking for meatballs (or veggie balls as she calls them; we r vegetarian) everyday now and ur recipe looks the best. Thanks, Shilpa.

  7. Hi Shilpa,
    A flax egg should work, especially if you make it in a food processor or blender until it gets nice and viscous. If she can do dairy, the cheese will also help the tofu meatballs stay together. Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

    -Sea :)

  8. Thank you for this great recipe! We really enjoy these. I have made them twice and they worked both times. How do you recommend storing leftovers? Have you ever tried freezing them? Also, what is the best way to reheat them?

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