These mushroom “meatballs” are perfect for those times when you want a hearty, bold red wine without overpowering your veg-based meal. Umami shiitakes used as the base can stand up to full-bodied reds. These meatless meatballs have all that classic Italian goodness of the real deal, making it exceptional with a bold Barolo from the Piedmont region of Italy. Whether in a red sauce over angel hair, or with truffled ravioli in a garlicky butter sauce, this is a vegetarian dish (that can be veganized!) for you Red Wine or Bust veg folk out there.
I wanted to do these mushroom meatballs two ways – first, in a classic red sauce spaghetti/angel hair situation for more of an everyday dish. Second, in a garlicky butter sauce with truffle oil with porcini mushroom and truffle ravioli. Truffles are from Piedmont, Italy so the “what grows together goes together” trope applies – a Barolo is destined to be paired with this meal.
There were also a handful of methods of preparing the meatballs that I wanted to try out. Frying and baking, and coating in breadcrumbs (or not). I ended up trying all four combinations. Ultimately, I loved the baked and uncoated version because it felt very classic and allowed the mushroom flavor to come through. But of course, anything fried in oil is going to be delish. The fried versions had me thinking of these as “mushroom falafel”.
If you really want the flavors of Italian seasoning to be the star, coat them in the breadcrumbs. And choose frying vs. baking depending on if you want a richer or lighter feel, respectively.
Barolo is a village in the Italian region of Piedmont. The wine is made from the Nebbiolo grape and they are revered wines. A Barolo is typical fuller bodied with great structure, acidity, and tannin. You can find very expensive and elite bottles, or you can also hit your local Trader Joe’s for their bargain – but delicious – bottles that are sold exclusively for TJ’s. That’s what I did for this casual (can I consider this meal casual?) weekday meal.
In the typical food & wine world, a Barolo is the recommended pairing for things like duck, pork chops, lamb, veal, and other precious baby creatures that we don’t need to be eating. So it’s really awesome that truffles and mushrooms can come together to create a vegetarian (and even vegan) option that still pairs beautifully with an intense red wine like Barolo.Print
Shiitake mushroom based “meatballs” for a hearty vegetarian dish that can easily be veganized with a few swaps.
- 1 lb shiitake mushrooms
- 1 small white onion
- 1 cup fine, steel-cut quick-cook oats
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 whole eggs ((can use flax egg to make vegan))
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp tsp rosemary
- Parmesan, grated ((you can swap this for nutritional yeast))
Angel hair in red sauce
- 1 serving angel hair pasta
- red sauce, I prefer Rao’s if not making homemade
- 1 serving ravioli of your choice ((I used Trader Joe’s Porcini Mushroom & Truffle ravioli))
- 1 tbsp truffle oil
- 2 tbsp butter ((I used Miyoko’s vegan butter – it’s PERFECT for a garlic butter sauce))
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Coat a pan in olive oil, and bring heat to medium.
- Finely dice onion, and sautee in oil for roughly 7 minutes.
- Dice mushrooms, and add to the pan with your three cloves of minced garlic. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions start brown.
- Remove mushrooms and onions from heat, and allow to cool.
- Add the oats, bread crumbs, eggs, and herbs and mix thoroughly (using your *clean* hands works best).
- If you want a really even texture, you can blast this mixture in a food processor blender, but it’s not necessary.
- If making a day ahead, cover the mixture in a bowl and allow the flavors to meld together overnight in the fridge (though again, not necessary).
- Mold the mixture into balls, using a tablespoon as a rough guide to keep sizes consistent. You can coat them in another layer of breadcrumbs if you wish.
- Heat a pan with olive oil at medium heat and fry meatballs, rotating every couple of minutes to get an even brown on each size. Or, bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes (time is dependent on the individual oven, so keep an eye on them!)
I made these mushroom meatballs four ways: coated in breadcrumbs + pan fried, coated in breadcrumbs + baked, as well as not coated + pan fried, and not coated + baked. Each version was great in different ways. Pan fried is definitely a denser experience, reminiscent of an Italianized mushroom falafel. Coating them in breadcrumbs helps with the frying and prevented sticking and allowed for a great texture. Baking was, of course, lighter and the uncoated version was moist and a deliciously classic “meatball style”, which ultimately made it my favorite version for using in pastas.
Keywords: meatless meatballs, mushroom meatballs, vegetarian meatballs, barolo, vegetarian wine pairing, red wine, italian