As a vegetarian, I have always felt a pang of pain at having never been able to answer the only question anyone asks me after going to IKEA: 'Did you have the meatballs?'. Of course, I can always answer the second question ('It's really big isn't it?' 'Yes') but it doesn't taste as good and I still feel really left out. Which is why the news that the Swedish sofa-meatball giants are going to introduce veggie meatballs comes as a real cause for celebration. Now, when someone asks me if I've had the meatballs at IKEA I can say 'No! Because I bought 900 really cheap things and was too stressed and just wanted to go home', but I could have done if I'd have wanted to.
Thanks to a Viva petition, IKEA will be putting the veggie (and actually vegan) meatballs in stores from April as well as other new items that haven't yet been announced. Perhaps an egg shaped like a lamp? Or not. Either way, well done everyone. To commemorate this special day, here are some veggie meatball recipes to make at home when you're not at IKEA because we can't always be in IKEA when we want meatballs.
**How to make actual meatballs (thanks **WholeFoodsWholeFoods** - this serves 4) **
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup roughly chopped cremini mushrooms
1 cup packed baby spinach
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed, drained and divided
2 teaspoons dried organic basil
2 teaspoons dried organic oregano
1 cup frozen brown rice, thawed
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and spinach. Cover and cook until mushrooms are tender and spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds until coarsely ground. Add cooked vegetable mixture, half the beans, basil and oregano. Pulse until mixture is just coming together. In a large bowl, combine puréed mixture, remaining beans and rice. Stir until combined.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Form mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake meatballs 30 minutes or until heated through and crisp on the outside.
Some sweet-ass, REALLY simple sauce your meatballs can go in (thanks **BBC Good FoodBBC Good Food, we altered the amounts so it serves about 4 people)**
1 tbsp olive oil
Half a courgette, coarsely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Half a tbsp tomato purée
pinch caster sugar
splash red wine vinegar
1 and a half x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for 5 mins until soft and mushy. Stir in the tomato puree, sugar and vinegar leave for 1 min then tip in the tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins. If your children like courgettes then you can leave the sauce chunky. But if, like mine, they hate courgettes then blitz the sauce with a hand blender – either way continue to simmer sauce gently while you cook the meatballs. If your child is confident with heat, from 7+ they can cook the sauce with supervision.
Or, like, just buy a really cheap jar of pasta sauce and throw some mixed herbs in it. And parmesan, if you're not vegan. Oh wait, parmesan isn't vegetarian either is it? Er, cheddar. Anyway, make sure you hide the jars so people think you made it all yourself (you're welcome).
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Artwork: Eugenia Loli
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.