Moroccan 'Meatball' Casserole

You won't find many recipes requiring faux meats on this blog and I'm a wee bit loathed to post one even now. However, I feel I must give a little focus to The Redwood Wholefood Company who have recently extended their range of vegan convenience foods to include everything from tuna pate (which is surprisingly good and would work really well in a vegan 'tuna melt' - ooh er!) through to soy free yoghurts (I love the black cherry flavour). Even though their meatballs have been available for a while now I was never tempted to try them for some reason - like I've alluded to before, my opinion of faux meats is generally 'meh' and so the meatballs have remained unchartered territory. Until now.

My recent trip to Holland and Barrett seen me fill my basket (my hand was forced by their buy get one half price deals - what a sucker) with half of the redwood range. Okay maybe not half but a lot of it. Including their chicken style pieces (which I previously used in this dish), quarter pounders (which look unnervingly real), breaded pepperjack style cheezly bites (remember this?) and of course the meatballs.

What then was my verdict on said meatballs?

Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

More Swedish meatball than Italian, i.e. not chunky but with a delicately meaty essence - I'm not sure if that's a good thing? What I do know is that Hubbie enjoyed both of the dishes I utilized them in - there are over twenty meatballs in each pack so more than enough for a family of four or two meals for a couple(that's us!). You can oven bake them, grill them or do what I did and just pop them in the sauce. They don't take very long to heat through but be sure not to leave them in too long as I fear this might negatively affect the texture.

I enjoyed my Moroccan Meatball dish and my Spaghetti and 'Meatballs' and I probably will buy these again. Just not for a while. Faux meats are totally cool every so often but in my opinion shouldn't regularly feature in anyone's diet. They have been described by some as being a transitional food and I would kinda go along with that. I mainly don't like to eat them much because they make me feel a bit sluggish - not the same as when I ate meat but similar.

Wholefoods are without a doubt the best way to go but that's not to say you can't indulge in some faux meat action when the urge takes you. Luckily they last for a pretty long time in the fridge (that worries me too but whatever) so I can space out my remaining faux meat meals. I must say though, if I had a choice (and I do), I'd reach for the smoked tofu (also in my fridge) quicker than the 'quarter pounders'.

Cripes, I really am vegan!

Moroccan Meatball Casserole

1/2 onion

1 carrot

1 courgette/zucchini

1 sweet red pepper

4 closed cup mushrooms

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp vegan vegetable bouiliion

1 tsp harissa paste

4 sprigs Thyme

Olive oil

pink Himalayan salt and black pepper

1/2 pack Redwoods Meatballs (10-12)

1/2 cup cous cous

juice 1/2 lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp finely chopped dill

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and zucchini (courgette). Add the onion and carrot to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Clamp the lid on and sweat for several minutes.

Mince the garlic, remove thyme leaves from the stalk and finely chop. Add the courgette, garlic and thyme to pan. Stir, put lid on and allow to soften for a few minutes.

Roughly chop the red pepper and add to pan. Soften for a few minutes before adding the spices. Allow the spices to infuse for several minutes before adding the quartered mushrooms.

Add the harissa paste and stir until all the vegetables are coated before sprinkling in the vegetable bouillion and topping with water until the vegetables are just covered. Clamp the lid on again and simmer for 10-15minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a kettle. Put the cous cous in a large bowl with a little salt and pepper. Measure out 1/2 cup freshly boiled water and pour over the cous cous, give it a quick stir and place a plate on top of the bowl. Set aside for ten minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Pop the meatballs in the casserole to heat through for about ten minutes with lid on.

Fluff the cous cous with a fork, pour over lemon juice, oil, seasoning and chopped dill and stir to incorporate. Place lid on bowl again to keep warm or until the meatballs have sufficiently heated through.