Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash

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A deliciously hearty yet healthy and light winter meal. Made with meat-free meatballs, a rich Italian tomato sauce, creamy cauliflower mash & cashew parmesan.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!
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Oh my it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog (you may have noticed). But I have good reason I promise.

At the end of June I was busily studying for a bunch of exams and essays for my Naturopathy, Nutrition and Herbal Medicine degree. Then straight after that I took the most amazing 3 1/2 week holiday to Northern Italy! It was truly bliss. I absolutely love travelling (in a past life I did a Bachelor of Arts at Uni in Languages), and learning about a new culture, language, history and way of living is truly such a special treat for me. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. In fact I’m already dreaming up where I want to go next year!

Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!

The trip away also did wonders for my recipe imagination, and I have about 6 different notepads stuck to the fridge right now with recipe ideas I want to share with you all. Lots of them have an Italian influence of course, but then there are others that are kiwi classics that I got a hankering for whilst consuming all that Italian cuisine. It’s also of course mighty cold back here in NZ (especially when coming from 30 degrees!), so this week I wanted to share with you a lovely comforting winter meal. Hearty and nourishing, but at the same time super healthy and light due to it being jam packed with veges (my favourite technique).

Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!

This delicious recipe combines herby and flavoursome meatballs with a crispy outer, in a rich and luxurious Italian tomato sauce, atop of a deliciously creamy cauliflower mash, and sprinkled with a super quick and easy cashew nut parmesan. The recipe is a bit more labour intensive than some of my normal midweek quickies, but I promise it’s absolutely worth it. When my boyfriend tried it he was like, holy moley this is incredible! I promise you’ll love it too.

Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!

The other awesome thing about the elements of this recipe (the meatballs, the homemade tomato sauce, the cauli mash, and the cashew nut parmesan), is that every single one can be used in a different guise as well. So once you’ve mastered it, I guarantee you’ll want to whip out the individual elements in a different form for your next meal. I highly recommend at least making a double batch of the Italian sauce, as it refrigerates or freezes beautifully and the flavours are just delicious. Here are just some ideas of how to use each of the different elements:

  • Meatballs – try them atop of some spelt or black bean spaghetti; on top of a potato and celeriac mash; on your favourite wholegrain toast spread with avocado underneath; as a pizza topping (“meat lovers”!) with a layer of the italian sauce, topped with dairy-free cheese or cashew cheese and basil; with a big salad for lunch; or serve them individually as hors d’oeuvres drizzled in either the tomato or a soy, ginger & coconut nectar sauce.
  • Italian Tomato Sauce – use as a delicious pasta or pizza sauce; as a base for minestrone soup; or heat with some lentils, black beans or cannelloni beans for a quick homemade baked beans on toast.
  • Creamy Cauliflower Mash – use as an easy and light base underneath deviled tofu sausages, chili con carne, or braised lentils; serve with a slice of mushroom and lentil pie and some peas (classic UK pub fare gone healthy!); use as a topping for a homemade lentil shepherd’s pie; mix with some buckwheat or chickpea flour and herbs to make panfried cauliflower croquettes; or mix with spelt or buckwheat flour to make cauliflower gnocchi.
  • Cashew Nut Parmesan – anywhere you’d use parmesan! On top of pasta, pizza, in risotto. This recipe will last 3 months in your fridge and trust me you’ll love it – it’s so incredibly versatile.

Now onto the recipe. I hope you enjoy it, and really it’s wonderful to be back 🙂

x Buffy-Ellen
Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!


Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.

Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash recipe by Buffy Ellen of Be Good Organics - vegan and gluten free!
GF
NF
SF
V

Italian Meatballs with Creamy Cauliflower Mash

A deliciously hearty yet healthy and light winter meal. Made with meat-free meatballs, a rich Italian tomato sauce, creamy cauliflower mash & cashew parmesan.
4.50 from 2 votes
AuthorBuffy Ellen
Servings 4 people (28 meatballs)
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins

Ingredients

Meat-Free Meatballs:

  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 300 g organic tofu mince or tofu pulsed in food processor
  • 1 c buckwheat flour
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • large handful fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp pink rock salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil for frying

Italian Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • large handful fresh thyme/oregano/basil you can also use dried if you don’t have fresh on hand
  • 1 tbsp coconut nectar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 tsp pink rock salt

Creamy Cauliflower Mash:

  • 1 large cauliflower in florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp pink rock salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg optional

Cashew Parmesan:

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp pink rock salt

Instructions

  • Prepare Meatballs – mix all ingredients together in a food processor or large bowl, then place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm.
  • Make Tomato Sauce – sauté onion and garlic in oil until transparent and fragrant, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is thick, rich and slightly sweet. Blend in a food processor then return to the pan (switched off) to wait.
  • Cook meatballs – roll meatballs into golf size balls (makes ~28 balls), then fry in oil in 2-3 batches for around 10 minutes until brown and crispy on both sides. Add your second measure of oil for the second batch so they don’t stick. Set balls aside on a plate in a single layer to cool slightly (they will get nice and firm here).
  • Make Cauli Mash – steam cauliflower until very soft (10-15 minutes), then blend in a food processor until smooth. Return to pan with the remaining mash ingredients and simmer for 5 mins. You can blend again at the end if you want it even smoother (like a cauliflower puree – very fancy).
  • Add meatballs carefully to your tomato sauce, turn to cover, then heat gently until just bubbling.
  • Make Parmesan – blend cashews, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor/blender until a fine powder is formed. Keep in the fridge for 3 months in a sealed container (this stuff is gold).
  • Serve mash topped with meatballs and sauce, drizzle the edges with olive oil, and sprinkle with cashew parmesan and extra chopped parsley if you wish. I like to serve this with some simple mixed salad greens drizzled in balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil, to freshen up the balance.

Recipe Notes

  • Make it gluten free: you can easily make this recipe 100% wheat or gluten free by using gluten free oats, brown rice flakes, or quinoa flakes instead of the oats.
  • I love using Trade Aid’s organic fair trade coconut milk in my recipes (you can order it here). Unlike some coconut milks/creams which separate, it has a beautiful thick even consistency. It’s labelled “coconut milk” but is much more like a coconut cream as it has an 18% fat content. The only difference between coconut milks and creams is the amount of water added – however some milks have higher fat contents than creams! I always recommend going for a cream-like product, as you can always water it down yourself if you like.