Meatless Meatballs, sauced and ready for pasta.
This recipe comes from the book The Harvest Collection by Gardner Merchant, and it's actual name is Fresh Herb Oatcakes. Because I rarely have fresh herbs and usually use dried ones, I have changed the name a little. These "meatballs" are made from bread crumbs and cheddar cheese, with herbs and a coating of egg and oatmeal. When first cooked, they are little soft, but as they firm up, they have a chewy, almost meaty texture. While I wouldn't try to pass them off as meat, I'm confident you won't miss it.
If you don't like oats, I think you could leave them off without affecting the recipe much. But don't try to bake them without browning them in the frying pan first. I tried it once, and the cheese melted out. The quick pan frying makes a brown coating that holds the cheese in. However, you can omit the baking step altogether if you like; the meatballs are a little softer, but still fully cooked.
By all means, use fresh thyme, rosemary and sage if you have them (1-1/2 teaspoons, chopped, of each for this recipe). If you only have ground herbs (instead of fresh or dried leaves), use 1/4 teaspoon of each.
You can serve these any way you might serve a regular meatball. For a pasta dish, I like to put these in a pan with the pasta sauce and heat them all together, then pour it over the pasta. They are also good with a creamy mushroom sauce (Swedish meatball-ish) or with barbecue sauce on them. A batch makes about 12-15 meatballs.
Herbed Oat Cakes
1 T. oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat is preferred)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of dry ground mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons rolled oats
Heat the oil and saute the onion until soft. Let cool. Mix the onion with the cheese, one of the beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs, nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into balls (I use a small scoop). They may be difficult to form; if they just won't stay together, add just a little milk to the mixture.
Whisk the other beaten egg with the milk. Dip each meatball in the egg mixture, then roll in the oats. Shallow-fry until lightly browned and then bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.
Makes about 12 "meatballs".