Thursday, October 11, 2007

Laurel's Famous Tofu Balls

Alex requested this recipe, so here is a close approximation. My mom made various versions of these when I was little but never actually measured the ingredients. I've been making them for about four years and of course I've never actually measured the ingredients either, so you might have to futz with the wet/dry proportions a little. Sooooooo delicious as a vegetarian alternative to meat balls on spaghetti. (Just make sure the boys in your life don't eat eight and make themselves sick. For real. Not only are sick boys no fun, but you totally want to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.)

Basic ingredients:
1 package firm tofu
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP olive oil
2 large eggs
3/4-1 C bread crumbs
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh/dried basil
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Magic ingredients:
splash soy sauce
toasted sunflower seeds
chopped walnuts
handful of poppy seeds
sauted diced mushrooms
chopped olives
any other spices that sound good to you

Saute onion and garlic together in the olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent and fragrant. Drain tofu well and crumble it into a large bowl. Add sauted veggies, eggs, bread crumbs, herbs, and salt and pepper. (Note on the breadcrumbs: if you don't have any lying around, feel free to throw crackers or stale bread into the blender and pulse until crumbled. And for the gluten-free among you, rice crackers work great for this!) Here's the fun part: with your hands, mush and crumble all ingredients together until well mixed. If it feels too wet, add another small handful of bread crumbs. Now, you want to think about adding a magic ingredient or two. These balls are delicious just like this, but everybody likes a little magic, and I've had great success adding various combinations from this list. The walnuts are probably my all-time fave, but add whatever sounds good to you. Of course, if you have a stroke of genius and come up with another amazing ingredient addition, by all means do it and post a note about it. Mix thorougly.

Roll the mixture between your hands in medium chunks to form about a dozen balls. Heat a good amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan, and when hot, add half the balls. Allow them to brown on the bottom (usually 4-5 minutes depending on the heat of the oil), before turning to the next side. I think I end up browning them on four sides usually, so they come out of the pan looking a little bit like little pyramids.

Serve over pasta and sauce with plenty of parmigiano sprinkled on top! Yummy!

PS - This is your new favorite recipe.


Lisa said...

Mmm . . . I need to make these like whoa. I wonder if they'd be good with pesto on top . . .

Also, I'm thinking that the miso-tahini-soy combination might work well here . . . maybe in smaller proportions than the tofu burgers, but enough to give it that yummy savory flavor.

Robyn said...

Made these last night. Didn't have bread crumbs, so I crumbled up some Stacey's pita chips. Went with sesame seeds--lots of 'em. For spices, cumin and white pepper.

Laurel, these are SO SO GOOD. You might be a genius. Just consider it.