Happy Thanksgiving! This has always been my favorite holiday. I love the smells, the busyness in the kitchen, the family gathering together . . . But I especially love celebrating a day that symbolizes gratitude. I believe that reminding ourselves what we are grateful for can be such a powerful and positive tool. When life gets crazy, or we’re feeling frustrated with where we’re at in our lives, or wishing we had more of this or less of that . . . simply taking a moment or two to consider all that we DO have, whether those things are “big” or “small,” can truly clarify our perspective and help us to reprioritize what really matters. I try to do this as often as I can remember to, but having this day of thanksgiving every year is a perfect opportunity to focus on these thoughts as they apply to my life at the moment.
Today’s recipe was inspired by a similar one I raved about at a Thanksgiving several years ago. I had never had a “nut ball” before (great name, I know 😜), but after trying them, I was sold. They were baked in a bbq-like sauce and were just divine! Ever since then I’ve wanted to do my best to replicate them. So, without further adieu, here is my version I’m calling, Holiday Nut Balls (please help me come up with a better name).
In my first attempted version of these, I tried simmering them in a Crock-Pot in their sauce . . .
The flavors were all there, BUT, the balls completely crumbled apart into what became a “meaty” looking sauce. So, they are now baked separately in the oven . . .
. . . and then served with their sauce poured over top. They look so pretty!!
They certainly have a way of brightening up a plate! And when served with a side of colorful roasted veggies, they’re almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
They work quite well as a stand-in entree for turkey, ham, or whatever main protein dish is being served. And they will satisfy both vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests, alike! (See note in recipe for a gluten-free option!) Per serving (four balls), they offer 9 grams of protein, about 20% of daily iron and zinc requirements, 25% of daily magnesium and 5 grams of fiber.
If you have a large number of dishes to prepare, this would be one that could easily be prepped ahead of time. I would recommend forming them into balls, storing them in the refrigerator, then baking them just before serving. The sauce could certainly be done beforehand and then reheated.
Holiday Nut Balls
A simple and delicious vegan option for the holidays.
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 6 tbsp hot water
- 1 cup walnut halves, finely chopped
- 1 cup whole cashews, finely chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs *See note below
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
Sweet and Tangy Sauce:
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For Nut Balls:
Stir flaxseed and water together in a small bowl, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.
Add the flax egg, now thickened, to the main bowl and mix everything together until combined.
Heat oven to 350F.
Using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), form mixture into balls. They should be slightly smaller than golf ball size. I found I needed to squeeze them in my hand a few times before the held their shape.
Place balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway.
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, and whisk them together until you have a smooth sauce.
Turn heat to medium and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Serve the balls first, then pour sauce over the top. Enjoy!
Note: You could serve these on a platter with the sauce poured over top for a nicer presentation. Just be cautious in transferring them to plates, as they tend to fall apart fairly easily.
*These could easily be made gluten-free by using GF breadcrumbs and GF Worcestershire sauce.
Again, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for all of you who follow along with me on here! 😊🙏🏻