By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Mushroom Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.


Raise your hand if every conference, wedding or event you've attended provides a sad looking grilled portobello mushroom as the vegetarian entree. Every. Meal. When people feel strongly (read: visceral reaction) about mushrooms, it's usually because they've had bad ones! They've been cooked incorrectly so they're slimy or dry or bland. But the thing is, mushrooms are amazing. They're umami, savory, earthy and have massive cooking potential when in the right hands (specifically these hands, right here with the gold nail polish on). To show you how easy it is to replace a typical meat dish with mushrooms I grabbed the bull by the horns and made mushroom MEATballs. And they rock. If you think you also have a great idea to use mushrooms to swap it or top it in a recipe, you can enter the Mushroom Council's contest! 

Healthy Hostess: Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs 

To make mushrooms like meat it comes down to two things:

1. Texture: Mushrooms need to be chopped finely so they seem like ground meat. It also keeps pieces from being rubbery.

2. Searing: To bring out the umami/savoriness of the mushroom, pieces need to sear on a hot surface. 


In this recipe it's crucial that you take the time to dice the heck out of this blend of white button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms. Once they go in the cast iron skillet, spread them in an even layer and let them sear! It might feel like it's taking forever with these little guys in the pan, but it's worth it. And the beauty of adding the carrot to these is it adds a layer of sweetness. My grandma and dad usually make their pasta sauce with a little bit of carrot as the base (or if you're my dad, sometimes just a spoonful of sugar!). It's a nice balance to the acidic tomato. PLUS adding in another veggie that's been squeezed dry means I didn't have to add in more flour or breadcrumbs or whatever to hold it together! WIN! 

Healthy Hostess: Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs 
Healthy Hostess: Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs 

Mushroom Veggie 'Meatballs' and Zucchini Pasta

Makes 18 meatballs, serves 4

/// Ingredients ///

  •  1/2 T olive oil 
  • 7 oz white button mushrooms (by weight)
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms (by weight)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 C vidallia onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded and squeezed dry 
  • 5 drops liquid smoke
  • 1/2 C whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz parmesean cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 sage leaves, chopped 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T egg white
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • pasta sauce
  • 3 small green zucchini 

/// Directions ///

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat on the stove. While the pan is heating clean mushrooms. Chop finely. Add olive oil to the skillet and add mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally to remove liquid. This should take several minutes. Once the majority of the liquid has evaporated, add the butter and stir. Press mushrooms into a single layer. Allow to sear roughly 2 minutes. Stir and form another single layer, allowing to sear another two minutes. Stir and cook until gold/brown. 

Chop onions and garlic. Add to the mushroom mixture and cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant and the onion softens. Add liquid smoke. Grate carrots finely and place in a colander. Salt and allow to drain for 3 minutes. Using your hands or placing in cheese cloth, squeeze all liquid from the carrots. Fluff and add to the mushroom mixture. Using a spatula, scrape mixture into a large mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl, add parmesan, breadcrumbs, herbs and salt and pepper. Add eggs and mix with clean hands. The mushroom mixture should hold together when pressed. Refrigerate for 2 hours. 

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the meatballs from the fridge and form 18 meatballs with your hands. Space evenly on the sheet and place in a 450 degree (F) oven. Cook for 10 minutes. 

In a small pot on the stove heat pasta sauce. Add meatballs. Using a vegetable peeler create zucchini 'noodles'. Add zucchini noodles to a bowl and add sauce and meatballs. Top with additional parmesan. 

Healthy Hostess: Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs 

I really can't say enough about these meatballs. The husband and I gobbled these up with the fresh raw zucchini. And I won't lie, they'd probably be pretty excellent as a meatball sub too!

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.