Delicious Meatless Vegetarian Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Sauce - brown rice, vegetables and cheddar make these yummy bites that the whole family will enjoy.
Brown Rice and Vegetable Meatballs
I kind of felt off about calling these meatballs, after all there is no meat in this recipe.
But they are the shaped to resemble meatballs and look like meatballs, so what else could they be called? I know some get very disgruntled by calling things like this meatballs. I could call them Brown Rice and Vegetable balls. But see what I mean? Even that doesn't sound quite right.
I am sticking to Vegetarian "Meatballs" in Creamy Sauce. Either way these are yummy and a great addition to your meal plan if you want a meat free meal.
Inspiration for Vegetarian Meatballs
Have you ever had Arancini? I was first introduced to them by my Sicilian neighbour. She makes them often and occasionally will drop in a plate. My kids love them, especially my youngest and they pretty go fast.
Not in the slightest bit healthy on Slimming Eats. Which is why I had to make these delicious Oven Baked Arancini Balls.
That later on inspired the recipe for these Risotto Patties. Perfect for a picnic or lunch when we have a day out. They are delicious served hot or cold and great with a nice mixed salad.
It's funny how one recipe can inspire another.
I actually had planned to make some of the oven baked arancini balls, but didn't have an Arborio rice (risotto rice) on hand. Instead I noticed the big jar of brown rice that was staring at me and settled on using that instead, for some vegetarian style meatballs.
Making vegetarian Meatballs
So the main ingredient used in these is cooked brown rice, but to add flavour and texture, I also added various vegetables such as carrot, zucchini, onion and garlic.
To help them hold and bind together, I used cheddar and egg. I haven't tested these using a dairy free cheese and vegan egg replacement, so not sure if they will work with those, do let me know if you try though.
Ensure you cook rice correctly so that it is not wet once cooked, as any wetness will affect how they bind together. I normally leave the rice with the lid on heat off for about 12 minutes once cooked, as steam trapped underneath will ensure any remaining moisture is absorbed.
You do need a food processor for making these vegetarian meatballs, as it will help chop everything finely so they all hold together, doing it just by hand may mean they fall apart. If you only have a stick blender, than may work, but you may have to process in two or three parts.
Can I use a different cheese?
I used mature cheddar to help these bind together and for some flavour, but use any good melting cheese of your choice. Mozzarella however is very mild tasting, so I recommend using a cheese with flavour.
Italian style Vegetarian Hard cheese is another great option to use, similar flavour to Parmesan but without any rennet.
The cream cheese part for the sauce, I used laughing cow triangles, however if you are not following Slimming Eats you can replace that with a cream cheese like Philadelphia if you prefer. Just use a similar amount.
Sides for Vegetarian Meatballs
Because these contain brown rice and other ingredients they are actually pretty filling as they are just with a salad.
They are also great over some pasta of your choice, or for a healthier low calorie option some spiralized zucchini (courgette) or a mix of both, mean you can have slightly less pasta but bulk it out with the zucchini.
More Vegetarian Recipes
Looking for some other vegetarian recipes to try? Check out these:
- Roasted Green Bean and Tomato Pasta
- Baked Bean Cheesy Potato Topped Pie
- One Pot Creamy Pesto Courgette Pea Pasta
- Mediterranean Tomatoes and White Beans
- Pulled Mushrooms with BBQ Sauce
- Creamy Vegetable Soup
- Creamy Vegetable Soup
- Creamy Coconut Potato Curry
or if you would like more recipe ideas - head on over to the FULL RECIPE INDEX where you will find over 900 delicious recipes and can search by ingredients, course, diet and more.
All with estimated calories and Slimming Eats and Weight Watchers Smart Points values.
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For the meatballs:
- 1 cup (180g) of uncooked brown rice
- 100g (3.5oz) of carrot
- 100g (3.5oz) of onion
- 100g (3.5oz) of zucchini
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ tsp of mixed herbs
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 60g of cheddar (I use mature)
- 2 eggs
- spray oil
For the creamy tomato sauce:
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 cups (360g) of Passata (or crushed tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (puree)
- 2.5 cups (600ml) of vegetable stock or broth
- 4 laughing cow light - (can use cream cheese if you prefer)
- fresh chopped Italian parsley
- fresh chopped basil
- spray oil
- salt and black pepper
- to serve: 30g (1oz) of cheddar
For the vegetarian meatballs:
- Cook the rice according to packet instructions.
- Usually it is 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until water is nearly absorbed, then turn off heat and leave covered for 10 mins.
- Allow the rice to cool.
- Add the onion and garlic to a food processor to chop finely.
- Spray a frying pan over a medium high heat with spray oil
- Add the onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes to soften
- Add the carrot and zucchini to the food processor and chop finely
- Add this and the salt and mixed herbs to the pan with the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 mins.
- Once rice is cool, add the rice to the food processor with the cheddar and keep pulsing until mixture is grind up very finely and feels slightly sticky when touched. This is important to ensure the vegetarian meatballs combine together.
- Preheat oven to 180c or 350f (gas mark 4)
- Add the rice mixture to a bowl with the sautéed, onion, garlic, carrot and zucchini and two eggs and mix well till all is combined.
- Roll into medium sized balls. (approx 15)
- Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
- Spray over the top with spray oil and bake for 20 mins.
- While those are baking you can start the sauce.
For the creamy tomato sauce:
- Spray a frying pan over a medium high heat with spray oil.
- Add the onion, garlic and carrot and fry for about 4-5 minutes to soften.
- Add the passata, tomato paste, chopped parsley, basil and stock and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 mins.
- After 20 mins you can stir in the laughing cow light until melted and sauce is creamy.
- Add in the vegetarian meatballs. Carefully stir them in to cover with the sauce.
- Then add a lid and simmer for 10 more mins.
- Serve topped with a little grated cheddar and your choice of sides.
Please see below for full nutritional info and additional details about recipe:
- Calories - scroll down to nutritional info box
- WW Points and other Slimming or Weight Loss programs - due to plans regularly changing and updating, we recommend calculating with the official tools you get as a member to those plans to ensure accuracy of values.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1 SERVING
Amount Per Serving Calories 407Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gCholesterol 122mgSodium 793mgCarbohydrates 55gFiber 5gSugar 15gProtein 17g
Nutritional information, values, points etc are an estimate and is to be used for informational purposes only. Ingredients can vary greatly from brand to brand and therefore it would be impossible to give accurate information. It is always advised that you calculate by the ingredients you use.