Photos by Lindsey Johnson
If you’ve made and enjoyed any of the vegetarian recipes I’ve created and shared in the past, you can thank meatballs, at least in part. Meatballs are largely responsible for converting me to a vegetarian diet. You see, I loved to help out in the kitchen as a kid. I also loved to eat meatballs. When it came to preparing meatballs, there was a little disconnect. The whole messy process of getting to know my food by digging my hands into a bowl full of meatball-to-be mixture just didn’t do it for me.
Interestingly enough, meatballs spent a long time on my vegetarian food wish list. Commercial vegetarian meatballs eventually became available, but like lots of meat substitutes, they were a bit disappointing.
Silver lining: homemade veggie meatballs are incredibly easy to make! There are a ton of options for replacing the meat part of meatballs, and my general rule is that if it works in a veggie burger, it’s at least worth a try in a meatball. The final dish that my meatballs end up in usually dictates what type of base I decide to go with. In this particular dish, sweet and sour flavors both come on pretty strong, as the name indicates.
These tempeh meatballs would work with most flavors and sauces, but with party season approaching, a pineapple sweet and sour seemed the way to go. (Sorry if you were holding out for grape-jelly meatballs!) In this recipe, just throwing some pineapple chunks into the sauce infuses it with loads of flavor. I also added a little Sriracha sauce, because if we’re doing sweet and sour, why not go all out and add some spicy to the mix?
Even better, these meatballs are incredibly quick and easy. The sauce is of the toss-everything-in-a-pot type, and it simmers for just a short time while the meatballs bake. It can also be made ahead of time, along with the tempeh meatball mixture. If you opt to go this route, just refrigerate everything until you’re ready to bake. When the time comes, roll your meatballs, bake them, and warm the sauce up on the stove just before the baking time is up.
Originally published on October 29, 2016.Print this recipe
You can dice the pineapple as finely as you like. If you’re serving these as an appetizer, you may want to cut the pineapple into about 20 chunks (or as many meatballs as you have) and skewer each chunk to the top of a meatball using a toothpick.
If you begin your sauce about 5 minutes after placing the meatballs in the oven, you should be well timed for the meatballs to go into the sauce right after coming out of the oven.
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