I was travelling for work last week living on hotel food and pro bars. When I got back to Burlington on Sunday my body craved home cooking and greens in any form. I fixed a kale salad and green drink, and chuckled at the irony of said meal before I took my first bite - ten year old, sugary cereal chicken nugget lovin’ me was smirking at twenty three year old kale salad green drink lovin’ me. (That same little girl is rolling her eyes at my faux meatball subs ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
I grew up eating fairly healthy meals with the occasional fast food / unhealthy meal out. Most nights I ate dinner around the table with my family, sometimes home cooked, sometimes take out, sometime heated up out of the freezer, but always shared with love and funny stories from the day.
While I was growing up, food was more about the social gathering that surrounded it and the people I shared it with. It still is (hence the meaning behind this blog :)), but in high school I started learning more about where my food comes from and noticing a difference in how I felt after eating certain foods.
When I came to Vermont for college the local food movement was, in a way, old news and simply part of life. Restaurants and campus eateries serve tasty, healthful options sourced locally, students and residents shop and volunteer at the coop, and most are willing to lend a hand when farmers are in the weeds (pun intended). This ethos has been a guiding force in my life since I stepped on campus and it’s one of the many reasons I stayed.
My normal day to day revolves around food - my job, cooking, blogging, but being away for a week with little talk about food and hardly any interaction with it, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live and work somewhere where people share a similar interest in food and where it comes from. As soon as I got back from my trip I headed to my local coop to stock up for the week and had a ten minute conversation with a produce stocker about all the tasty spring veg that's popping up. I carried my kale salad, green drink, and white bean mushroom 'meatball' ingredients home with the biggest smile on my face, grateful for that small interaction and the comforts of home.
Now let's talk white bean and mushroom 'meatball' subs - I was never a huge mushroom fan until I tried them roasted. Now they've become a weekly staple for me and I've been putting them in soups and stews and even (gasp!) raw on salads. A humble can of white beans, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and seasonings get pulsed together in the food processor with bread crumbs, rolled into balls, and baked until crispy and golden. The mushrooms give these a meaty taste and texture and the white beans keep them soft and tender. Once stuffed between a bun with garlicky chard and marinara sauce, you've got yourself a super satisfying meal loaded with nutrients. Good food and good vibes to you all! xx
white bean + mushroom 'meatball' subs (vegan)
makes about 20 'meatballs' / serves 4 + leftovers
1 tbs olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned with dry towel and chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili flake
1 15 oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/4 cups bread crumbs, split into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
5 stalks chard, removed from ribs and chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 25 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
parsley and chili flake for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat a large skillet or cast iron pot oven medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and onion and cook for five minutes. Next add garlic and mushrooms and cook for another two minutes. Stir in oregano, salt, pepper, and chili flake. Add white beans and lemon juice and stir, let the mixture cook for 1 more minute.
Add the white bean mushroom mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture comes together. Pour in the parsley and 1 cup of bread crumbs and pulse a few more times until the mixture is well combined. Let the mixture sit for five minutes so the bread crumbs absorb some of the white bean mushroom mixture.
Meanwhile add remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper, chili flakes, and parsley to a bowl. Take a 1 tbs scoops of the 'meatball' mixture and roll it into a ball in your hands. Roll it around in the bowl of seasoned bread crumbs and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until there is no 'meatball' mixture remaining.
Bake the 'meatballs' for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes flip them for even browning and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
While the 'meatballs' are baking, prepare the chard. Heat a few tsp of olive oil over medium heat in the same pot or skillet you cooked the 'meatball' mixture. Add garlic and salt and cook for 1 minute. Pour the garlic oil over the chopped chard and massage. Set aside.
Add a jar of marinara sauce to the same pot you cooked the garlic in and heat over low heat. When the 'meatballs' are cooked, place them in the warm marinara sauce.
Place chard in toasted buns and top with meatballs, parsley, and chili flake. Enjoy!