Lovely veggie Nut balls in a tomato sauce
I have been making these rather wonderful nut balls for decades and can’t now remember where I got the original recipe from, I suspect it is a Cranks one.
They are very simple to make, not requiring any complicated method, equipment or skills, although you’ll need to be able to chop the nuts and make breadcrumbs. They can’t really be frozen as they turn to mush, but they don’t take very long
How do I make veggie nut balls?
They are simple to make. You need some chopped nuts. Buy them ready chopped, or whizz to a rubble in a food processor, liquidiser, or chop with a largeish knife if you have neither of these.
You also need breadcrumbs. I tend to make breadcrumbs with any staling bread and keep them stashed in the freezer as they are very useful things to have around.
Fry an onion, them mix with well chopped nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese, tomato puree and egg. Squish it all together and divide into balls, place in a baking dish and cover with a tomato sauce, which could be as simple as a tin of good tomatoes poured over.
Bake in the oven for about half an hour.
What are the nut balls in tomato sauce like?
These are really good and don’t take long to make. Unfortunately, they don’t freeze, once defrosted, they are just a mush. I haven’t tried it, but you could, I suppose, freeze the mixture for the nutballs and the tomato sauce separately, then shape after defrosting.
They are crunchy from the nuts and have a deep flavour from the cheese and the tomato sauce. This was one of my girls favourite things when they were little.
Variations of nut balls in tomato sauce
- I usually made these with the bags of chopped nuts, which are mainly peanuts, until I noticed that the value salted peanuts are half the price. I’ve also done them with nuts from the larder, I tend to buy lots at a time. So I’ve done walnuts, almonds, Brazil’s, and a mixture. All of which worked well. These particular ones were made using walnuts.
- Use gf breadcrumbs and it’s gluten free. Omit the egg and cheese, and it’s vegan and dairy free. I would add a little flour if you leave out the egg, to help the balls to bind together.
- You could add curry spices or paste to the nuts.
- Or chilli, ginger and soy for an Asian flavour.
- Or a little Thai green, red or yellow paste.
- Add just a few black beans, some lime juice or zest, chilli and a sprinkle of oregano for a taste of Mexico.
- Serve with flatbreads, warm from the pan, chapatti, rice, mashed white or sweet potato, noodles, on pasta, a pile of stir fried veg or just plain and simple green peas.
Other recipes using nuts on Thrifty Lesley
- 1 onion 65p/500g 13p
- 100 g peanuts value salted, 48p/200g, 24p
- 1 tblsp oil £1.09/litre 2p
- 50 g breadcrumbs 55p/800g, loaf, 3p
- 50 g cheddar grated, smartprice red leicester, £3.49/830g, 21p
- 2 tblsp tomato purée 70p/200g, 10p
- 1 egg freerange, mixed weight (15) 13p
- ½ tsp thyme dried, 69p/17g, 4p
- 2 tins tomatoes 35p/tin 70p
- 1 tblsp oil £1.09/litre, 2p
- 1 onion 65p/500g, 13p
- bay leaves (if available)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsps sugar
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
For nut balls
- Chop the onion and fry in the oil until transparent. Leave to cool.
- Whizz the nuts to rubble in a liquidiser or food processor.
- If you have neither of these, use a large sharp knife and finely chop them. We want teeny pieces here, not a powder.
- Place the nuts in a bowl. Add all the other nut ball ingredients. Season well.
- Add the onion once cool and squidge everything together.
- Shape into 8 balls. Place in a dish that just fits them, not too big, or the sauce will burn.
For the tomato sauce
- Slice and fry the second onion.
- Simmer with the tomatoes, and bay leaves, if using, for a few minutes.
- Season well,
- Pour the sauce over the nut balls.
- Bake at 180c for 25/30 minutes
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