BBQ bean balls

This recipe is from some of our friends in the impromptu vegetarian group we formed here. There was already a group, but they seemed a bit … not like us? I don’t want to be a part of a vegetarian group that takes itself too seriously. I am doing this for my reasons, and I don’t really care why anyone else does it. It just helps to know cool people who also eat this way, in a town that reveres bacon above all else.

Anyway, I heard that this was adapted from Veganomican, a book that’s been on my want list for a long time. But I rarely use the cookbooks I do have, so I’m getting by without it. It kind of fills the need for a meatball like dish that you can put in a crock pot and take to a Superbowl party. Usually I just eat it for dinner with some starchy side.

BBQ Bean Balls

28 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 T. barbecue sauce, plus 1/3 c. for later
2 T. olive oil plus a little extra for baking
2 cloves garlic minced (I threw in a shallot this time and it was delish, too.)
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten (you’ll find this in the baking section)
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of thyme
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (how’s that for a measurement?)

I ALWAYS use KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce for this. I’m from Kansas – I pretty much have to. Actually, I just really like it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mash the beans in a mixing bowl until no whole beans are left. Add remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.

Roll mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the balls.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove them from the oven and in a bowl, mix up 1/3 c. barbecue sauce and 1/3 c. water.

Move the balls into a baking dish, pour the barbecue sauce on top, and put them back in to bake for 5-10 minutes.

I’ll be honest — this is not the most attractive dish you’ll ever prepare. But I think you’d be surprised how tasty they are. And I imagine they have significantly less fat than the oily meatballs you usually find in a Crock Pot.

I always end up adding a little more barbecue sauce to my plate, just because they get dry really easily. Or maybe because I just love the sauce.