I remember when I was a little girl, way before ever imagining of becoming vegetarian, I used to dream of ordering the Spaghetti and Meatballs at the Crystal Palace restaurant at World Disney World. I would go in and order the same thing every single year when we visited the park. The spaghetti my grandma used to make had the meat crumbled or “molida” in the sauce, never made into a meatball. It’s just not the norm here.
Here in Puerto Rico, albóndigas are mostly made as an appetizer for parties and you eat them with toothpicks. They used to be my appetizer of choice to make using those frozen meatball from Sam’s Club – so easy and so delicious. A Xmas party wouldn’t be the same without them… or guineítos en escabeche.
I may be vegetarian now, but I still crave the creamy “meatiness” of those albóndigas with tomato sauce. And every once in a while Mary and Angie, from the Yoga Center, satisfy my cravings. But what happens when they’re not around. I needed to learn to make my own, no?
1 cup of textured soy protein ½ onion, chopped finely ¼ green pepper, chopped finely 2 tbs sofrito ½ vegetable bouillon cube ½ cup balsamic vinegar – you can use the cheaper one here 3 garlic cloves Olive oil Salt and Pepper to taste Herbamare Seasoning to taste, I use about 1 teaspoon ¾ cup garbanzo or chickpea flour Canola Oil to fry them
- First you need to soak the soy protein back to life… place in a medium-sized bowl with plenty of water for the soy to absorb and reconstitute. Allow between 20-30 minutes for the soy to rehydrate. After the soy turns soft, drain it and squeeze as much water from it as you can. Set aside for a little while.
- In a medium skillet or sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and peppers. Sautee the onions and peppers for a few minutes then add the sofrito, vegetable cube, garlic and season with salt and pepper.
- When the vegetables are softened a bit, add the textured protein to the pan. Mix well to combine. Add a tad bit of olive oil if the mixture seems too dry. Add the Herbamare seasoning. Add the balsamic vinegar and lower the heat to a simmer and cover so the soy cooks in those juices and absorbs the flavors. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the soy to finish cooking with the residual heat of the pan and burner. Allow the mixture to cool off a bit before continue to forming the albóndigas.
- When the soy mixture has cooled off a bit, transfer it to a medium sized bowl and add the garbanzo flour to form a sort-of paste. Mix with your clean hands for better mixing.
- Using a heaping measuring tablespoon, portion out the soy to form albóndigas about the size of a ping pong ball.
Here you can do 1 of 2 things: Freeze them individually in a sheet pan and then store them in freezer bags for future use… or fry them right then a there. Your call…
To cook them… fry the albóndigas in about 1 inch of canola oil. I fry them over medium high heat, but make sure the oil is not too hot to avoid the albondigas to cook too much on the outside and not enough on the inside. A nice golden color is what you’re going for.
Tomorrow I’ll post the recipe for the tomato sauce you can eat these with… easy and delicious!!