We’re heading deeper into the 2011 cycling season and now we’re in Belgium with the Ronde Van Vlaandren. So, bring on the cobbles, and . . . bring on the meatballs? Ok, these two things probably don’t really go hand in hand. A belly full of meatballs is probably not what you want when racing on cobbled hills. However, if you’re not planning on riding up the Koppenberg or Muur anytime soon – but want something appropriate to eat while you’re watching others do it – then this meal is worth making. Pair these vegetarian meatballs with endives and beer, and settle in to watch this Monumental race.
Okay, yes: I could have produced some frites with mayonnaise and served in a little paper cone to honor the Tour of Flanders. But because Belgian food has been described as homey, comforting and slow-cooked, I figured I’d dig a little deeper for a rib-sticking meal. I also wanted to really feature traditional Belgian ingredients – endive and beer. This recipe does exactly that.
The meatballs become tender as they are soaked in the beer and broth. You’ll enjoy the smells coming from your kitchen as this dish slowly simmers on the stove.
Recipe: Vegetarian Meatballs with Endives and Beer (Gehaktballekes Gestoofd met Witloof en Bier)
Summary: A traditional Belgian meal with a vegetarian twist.
For the meatballs :
- 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 600g of vegetarian soy crumbles (approx 1 3/4 packages)
- 1/4 cup egg substitute
- 1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- a pinch of nutmeg
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp baking butter
- 1 tbsp oil
For the sauce/soup:
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- 3 witloofs/belgian endive (with the bitter core removed, sliced thinly from the cross-section)
- 1 tsp sugar
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 1 cup of Belgian blonde-style beer (pilsners also work)
- 1/2 cup vegetarian broth
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk.
- Place the soy crumbles in a big bowl, and add the breadcrumb-milk mixture, followed by egg, chopped shallots, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Mix the minced mix thoroughly and shape into big “meatballs.”
- Coat the meatballs thinly with flour.
- Heat up butter and oil in a big pan over high heat. Bake the meatballs in the pan for about 5 min, make sure that the meatballs are browned but not burnt. Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep them for later.
Preparation of sauce/soup:
- Leave 2 tbsp of oil in the pan. Add the onions and endive and stir-fry over a low fire for about 10 min. (Be careful to pull the core from the endive, as leaving it in can compound the bitterness of the beer.)
- Season with sugar, salt, pepper and sprinkle some flour over the vegetables. Continue to fry for another one to two min.
- Add the beer and broth into the pan of endive, and bring it to a boil.
- Put the meatballs back into the pan, cover the pan loosely with a lid (do not cover completely) and let the meatballs and endive simmer in the beer and bouillon, over a low fire for about 45 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from Everyone Eats Well in Flanders. The original recipe came from a cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek.
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: Dinner