Mar 182015


I like Meatless Mondays. But sometimes I move these Mondays to Tuesdays or Wednesday. Why not? For vegetarians Meatless Monday comes every day. For me, it is often happens after holiday feasts, like today. We had such a wonderful and delicious St. Patrick dinner. And now it is time to go easy.

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Creating vegetarian dishes is always fun for me.

To please my meat loving husband I chose Vegan “Meatballs” with tomato sauce and Creamy Polenta. He will love the word “meatballs”. And he admires Spain and Spanish food. So here I am: Vegan Tapas “Meatballs” with Paprika Sauce on Polenta Cakes.

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The dish turned out fairy delicious. You can serve it as a main course or as an appetizer – your choice.  For the appetizer I garnished the cake with julienned juicy jicama which gave it a nice crunchy touch. The good thing this dish is that everything can be prepared in advance and then just put together (or assembled) on a plate. Earthy and nutty mushroom-and-garbanzo “meatballs” with bright sunny and spicy paprika sauce over polenta – rounds, squares or triangles – this is a foodie Spanish Flamenco. Such an enjoyable and delicious project!

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And, yes, don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients and multi step method of preparation – it is easier to make the dish then to write the recipe describe.

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Vegan Tapas Meatballs with Paprika Sauce on Polenta Cakes


36-40 one-inch “meatballs”


For the “meatballs”

  • 12 oz yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb white bottom or cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (14 ½ oz)
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable, canola oil) = more oil for cooking the “meatballs”


For the sauce

  • 12 oz yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 chili pepper (jalapeno or fresno), finely chopped or pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large sweet peppers, preferably different colors, sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika (sweet or sweet smoked)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14 ½ oz)
  • ½ chopped green olives (optional)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • ½ cup water
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


For the polenta cakes

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Jicama for garnish, julienned (for the appetizer), (optional)




Make the polenta:

You can use good quality store bought or homemade polenta for this recipe. I use Ed Fleming’s method shared by Paula Wolfert


Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In a 3-quart non-stick pan or wide pot mix all the ingredients for the polenta.

Transfer the pan into the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Stir and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Cool for 5-7 minutes. Transfer the polenta into a dip baking sheet to harden for subsequent slicing. OR Transfer the polenta onto a piece of plastic wrap. Make a log, wrap tightly and cool in a refrigerator until the polenta is hard enough for future slicing.

In a pan heat the olive oil and cook polenta rounds (squares, triangles) on both sides until slightly golden.


For the “meatballs”:

In a large pan heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, cook for 45 seconds.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring.

Lower the heat to medium, add the carrots and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

Cool slightly, transfer into a food processor bowl, add the garbanzo beans and puree them.

Transfer the puree into a large bowl, add the rest of ‘meatballs’ ingredients and mix well.

Using a cookie spoon or hands, make the meatballs. The meatballs can be pan-fried or baked in a preheated to 400 F (200 C) oven for 10 minutes (the baking sheet should be brushed with oil).


For the sauce:

In a sauce pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the chili pepper and garlic, cook for about 1 minute.

Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, spices, olives, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the parsley.



Arrange the polenta cakes on a plate, top with the “meatballs” and pour the paprika sauce all around.

For an appetizer, garnish the polenta cake with julienned jicama.

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Cook with pleasure!


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