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Recipe: Walnut-Pecan Meatballs (Revamped)

December 3, 2009

Minnesota has had a pretty wonderful fall.  We had gorgeous colors on the trees and the “warm” weather lasted until this past Tuesday.  (Mind you, “warm” is relative, but for the end of November/beginning of December, 50 degrees is quite the heatwave here.)

Aaaaanyway, a couple days ago, the weather turned & it was suddenly winter.  It’s definitely colder outside, and the snow has started falling as of this morning.  So last night for dinner, I was craving something warm & comforting (yet still healthy, of course).  I referred back to this recipe for Walnut-Pecan Balls by Dreena Burton.  I made these about a year ago & thought they were good, but they didn’t quite blow me away.  This time, I decided to tweak them a little, and I have to say that I was quite impressed!  They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and packed with flavor & healthy fats.  I also decided to bake them instead of frying to avoid all that extra oil.  Most of the credit for this deliciousness goes to Dreena, of course, but I do really like my modifications.  (Original recipe is available through the above link, and my modified recipe is below.)


  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. red onion, chopped (one medium-large onion)
  • 2 celery stalks (leaves included), chopped
  • 2-3 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Approx. 2 Tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar (quick splash)
  • Heaping ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ c. pecans
  • ½ c. walnuts
  • 1 c. oats
  • ¼ c. fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten (can be omitted, but the balls will not be as firm.  Is it bad that I laughed typing that phrase? Yes, I am 8 years old, apparently.)
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium tamari
  • ½ Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • ¾ c. bread crumbs (preferably panko, as they are the crispiest)


  • In a skillet over medium heat, heat the oil.  Add the onion, celery, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery soften and are golden brown.  Add garlic, salt, pepper, and a splash of wine (or balsamic vinegar), and cook for about 2 additional minutes.
  • Once onions and celery have softened, add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except bread crumbs), and process until the mixture becomes crumbly, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Process again to incorporate any larger pieces, and just as mixture becomes sticky and/or forms a ball, stop processor.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (chilling will make the mixture firmer and easier to form into balls).
  • Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
  • Put breadcrumbs in a bowl or on a plate.
  • Take small spoonfuls of the meatball mixture (about 1 Tbsp.) and form into balls with your hands.  Roll each ball in breadcrumbs & place on cookie sheet.  You’ll get about 25 balls.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or so to start, and continue until balls are golden brown.  I turned the heat up to 475ºF for about 5 extra minutes to get a really nice color on them.
  • Remove, and serve warm with pasta and tomato sauce, or with dipping sauce of choice.

Yield: 25 balls

I served these over a bed of spiralized zucchini & carrot “noodles,” along with some raw marinara sauce & vegan Parmesan (1/2 c. almonds, 1/2 c. walnuts, 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. miso, and ¼ tsp. sea salt.  Whirl in food processor & voila!).  It was quite a delicious meal, if I do say so myself, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers today!  These balls could also be eaten in a sandwich, as a finger food dipped in marinara or mushroom sauce, or even atop a salad.

Reminder: Don’t forget to enter our A Scent of Scandal candle giveaway!  It closes tonight & winners will be announced tomorrow!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Kara (karahugstrees on twitter) permalink
    December 3, 2009 12:17 pm

    If you are 8 years old, so am I, because I totally renamed this recipe in my head: “Nut Balls”

    It sounds delicious, and will have to try it in January when I have an oven again.

  2. December 3, 2009 2:32 pm


  3. December 3, 2009 3:33 pm

    Nut meatballs… what a wonderful idea. And I must say, I’m a total sucker for any recipe that you can pop Worcestershire sauce in. Great stuff, I’ll be trying this very soon!

  4. cmb0096 permalink
    December 3, 2009 4:15 pm

    Today is the day it finally hit me that it is December in MN…up until now, I had been living in blissful denial of the inevitable and enjoying our lovely weather 🙂 It is cold out!

    These look fantastic–very hearty and comforting.


  5. December 4, 2009 11:16 am

    Ohhhhh! These sound awesome.

  6. December 5, 2009 3:24 am

    Ooh, these look great!

  7. December 5, 2009 1:17 pm

    That is a fantastic recipe! I love walnuts.

  8. December 10, 2009 4:28 pm

    My family would love these. 🙂

  9. December 21, 2009 6:58 pm

    I have all the ingredients to make this at home! Thank you for solving my dinner problem for tonight. They look great 🙂

  10. December 28, 2009 7:14 pm

    These look amazing, and so colorful with the zucchini & carrot! Thanks for sharing your recipe:)


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