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'UNMEATBALLS' AS SAVORY AS THEIR NAMESAKE

Aug. 4, 2002 – Meatballs have been a key menu item in Virgin Islands cuisine dating to the Danish days. But times are changing, and tastes are, too; so, how about trying some vegetarian soy meatballs?
Danish meatballs, or frikadeller, are made with ground veal and pork, have club soda added to make them light, and are sautéed in a skillet.
Traditional local-style meatballs are all beef and rolled in flour before being deep-fried.
Vegetarian-style meatballs can be made from what is called texturized soy protein or TSP. The brand I chose was Smart Ground, made by Lightlife Foods, because it's tasty, healthful and easy to use.
Even if you're not a vegetarian, you might consider making your meatballs with soy. The Food and Drug Administration states that "25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." Soy also has been linked with the prevention of cancer.
What really makes the meatball recipe below tasty is the use of fresh island-grown herbs. The tomato sauce for the meatballs uses these herbs, too, in addition to fresh onion and garlic. Taken together, the dish is a double winner for taste and health.
Veggie Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Veggie Meatballs:
1 package vegetarian ground beef substitute
1 egg white
1/4 cup wheat gluten
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
Tomato Sauce:
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper
28-oz. can plum tomatoes or whole tomatoes, pureed
1/3 cup tomato paste
To make meatballs: Combine all ingredients. Mix well by hand or food processor for two minutes. Place 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the palm of your hand and roll to form a round ball. Place ball on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Continue making rolled balls until all the mixture is used up. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
To make tomato sauce: In a saucepan, sauté onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add stock, bay leaves, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper and cook for 4 minutes or to reduce liquid by half. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook for 10 minutes.
To serve: Place meatballs in tomato sauce.
Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 380 calories, 5 gms fat, no cholesterol, 223 mg sodium.

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