February 28, 2022

Vegan White Bean Meatballs with Mojo Sauce

Mojo Meatball Bowls! Layered with so much flavor and texture, a must try.
Serves 4

Walnut and White Bean Meatballs with Mojo Sauce! Meaty, vegan meatballs with a citrusy, garlicky mojo sauce. 

Oh wow, these white bean meatballs with mojo sauce. There is so much flavor and texture packed into this bowl– tender walnut and white bean meatballs, chewy white rice, crispy plantain chips, melt-in-your-mouth charred onions all drizzled in the slurp-able garlicky, citrusy mojo sauce.

Like my Spicy Thai Green Curry Soup with Lentils that I posted a few weeks ago, this is another recipe inspired by Bon Appétit. My mom shared with me their pork mojo meatballs and I knew that I wanted to create a healthier, plant-based option instead. 

Out with the ground pork and in with cannellini beans and walnuts for extra plant-based protein, omega-3 fatty acids and heart-healthy fiber. I kept their mojo sauce and serving recommendations– white rice, plantain chips and charred red onions and highly recommend you do the same. As with most bowls, the toppings enhance the entire eating experience and the creamy red onions pair perfectly with the bright dressing and savory white bean balls. 

Here’s how to make it.

White Bean Meatballs with Rice and Mojo Sauce

Ingredients for the White Bean Meatballs

These vegan walnut and white bean meatballs are adapted by one of my favorite meatball recipes from The First Mess. I know this seems like a lot of ingredients, but it’s mostly just spices that you likely have in your pantry already. 

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to gel together. 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on preference)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime or lemon juice with 1 teaspoon zest
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans
  • ½ cup very finely chopped cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 3 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce. These meatballs are gluten-free if made with tamari instead of soy sauce; from there, the entire recipe is gluten-free. 

See how tender those meatballs look! Not dry or crumbly like so many plant-based meatball recipes and perfect for soaking up all of the garlicky mojo sauce.

Mojo Meatball Bowls with White Bean Meatballs

How to make these vegan meatballs 

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat, like a silpat, or with parchment paper and set aside. Place the flax seeds and water together in a small bowl and set aside until just gelled. Like a traditional egg used in many meatball recipes, the flaxseed mixture will help bind the rest of the ingredients together. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until just softened. Add the garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, sugar and salt and cook another 3 minutes or so until vegetables are very soft and fragrant. Stir in the lime or lemon juice with zest and scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Set aside and let just cool.

Place the walnuts and oats in the base of a food processor and process until very finely chopped, like a course meal. See the photo above for reference, if needed. Remove the contents of the walnuts and oats and place into the base of a large bowl.

Pat the white beans dry with a paper towel; this will help make the meatballs tender without being too wet. Add the white beans to the empty base of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped, but not completely pureed. Empty the beans into the oat bowl along with the cooked onion and spice mixture, flax seed gel, cilantro and soy sauce. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until well combined. Taste a small amount of the mixture, adding more salt/pepper as desired.

This is the secret for making plant-based meatballs, you get to taste the mixture before baking unlike using ground meat. If you feel like it needs most salt or seasoning, add it before baking. 

Scoop ~2 tablespoons of mixture (I use this scoop) and roll into balls, then place on the prepared baking sheet and finish with the rest of the mixture. Lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until meatballs are firmed and bottoms are lightly browned.

oats and walnuts for vegan meatballs Vegan Bean Meatballs

Make the mojo sauce for the white bean meatballs

If you’ve only enjoyed meatballs with marinara sauce, you are going to love this combo of white bean meatballs with mojo sauce!  

Place the following ingredients into a blender and puree until mostly smooth, with a few herby specks still remain.

  • jalapeño pepper, seeded. Removing the seeds reduces the heat of this sauce, but if you’d like a spicier sauce then I’d recommend keeping the seeds in or using a hotter pepper. 
  • orange, juiced
  • limes, juiced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Mojo Meatball Bowls

Assemble the white bean meatball with mojo sauce bowls!

Now it’s time to assemble the bowls! Like the original Bon Appétit recipe, I highly recommend serving this with white rice, charred onions and plantain chips. Trader Joe’s sells plantain chips and you can also find them at several grocery stores, or skip them all together but I don’t recommend skipping the onions. 

To char the red onions, peel 2 red onions and cut into 1” thick wedges, then toss with a little olive oil. Place in a 475 degree oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until soft and lightly charred on one side.

The onions will be so tender at this point and pair so nicely with the rest of the ingredients.

White Bean Meatballs with Rice and Mojo Sauce

More Vegan Meatball Recipes

Thanksgiving Meatballs 
Eggplant Meatballs with Creamy Lemon Sauce 
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Vegan Meatballs 
Vegan Meatball

Mojo Meatball Bowlsclose up of white bean meatballs

Print
Vegan Bean Meatballs with Mojo Sauce

Walnut and White Bean Meatballs with Mojo Sauce

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, vegan
  • Method: Stove Top, Oven
  • Cuisine: American, Cuban Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Walnut and White Bean Meatballs with Mojo Sauce! Meaty, vegan meatballs with a citrusy, garlicky mojo sauce. 


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, vegan
  • Method: Stove Top, Oven
  • Cuisine: American, Cuban Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, vegan
  • Method: Stove Top, Oven
  • Cuisine: American, Cuban Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

White Bean Meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice with 1 teaspoon zest
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry with a towel to soak up excess moisture (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 3 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce

Mojo Sauce:

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

White rice, plantain chips, charred red onion for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat, like a silpat, or with parchment paper and set aside. Place the flax seeds and water together in a small bowl and set aside until just gelled.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until just softened. Add the garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, sugar and salt and cook another 3 minutes or so until vegetables are very soft and fragrant. Stir in the lime or lemon juice with zest and scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Set aside and let just cool.
  3. Place the walnuts and oats in the base of a food processor and process until very finely chopped, like a course meal. See the photo above for reference, if needed. Remove the contents of the walnuts and oats and place into the base of a large bowl.
  4. Add the white beans to the empty base of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped, but not completely pureed. Empty the beans into the oat bowl along with the cooked onion and spice mixture, flax seed gel, cilantro and soy sauce. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until well combined. Taste a small amount of the mixture, adding more salt/pepper as desired.
  5. Scoop ~2 tablespoons of mixture (I use this scoop) and roll into balls, then place on the prepared baking sheet and finish with the rest of the mixture. Lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until meatballs are firmed and bottoms are lightly browned.
  6. Make the mojo sauce by placing all ingredients into a blender and blend until mostly smooth, with a few herby specks still remain.
  7. Serve meatballs over a bed of rice with plantain chips, charred red onion and mojo sauce!

Notes

To char red onions, peel 2 red onions and cut into 1” thick wedges, then toss with a little olive oil. Place in a 475 degree oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until soft and lightly charred on one side.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

6 comments
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    1. Ruthie
      March 21, 2022 AT 11:51 am

      Absolutely scrumptious! The taste, texture, brightness – it was all there! This recipe is going on repeat for sure!

      1. Alex
        March 21, 2022 AT 1:55 pm

        So glad you liked this one! We loved it in our house as well.

    2. Dana
      March 14, 2022 AT 5:58 pm

      I made this recipe exactly and thought it was delicious, I will definitely make again. The sauce is tops and really makes the dish but I was also happy with the texture of the meatballs. Usually mine end up a little mushy. These were tender but not mushy and with a crispy outside.

      1. Alex
        March 16, 2022 AT 7:39 am

        So happy to hear!

    3. Joanna
      March 10, 2022 AT 4:59 pm

      I can’t wait to make these! I’m on the hunt for the perfect meat-less meatball, and so far they’ve all been flops 🙁
      Just wondering if you’ve tried freezing them? It would be nice to batch cook and make them in advance!

      1. Alex
        March 11, 2022 AT 8:21 am

        Ha! I know that feeling well– let me know what you think about these. I found that they were just “juicy” enough (my complaint with most veggie meatballs, they are too dry) but if you want them to have a fattier mouthfeel (my other typical complaint) then I’d recommend lightly pan frying these instead of baking them. They pair really well with all of the components in this bowl, especially the sauce. I haven’t tried freezing these yet!