Print the recipe page! meatless spaghetti and meatballs
We’re moving into radical food storage territory today! As a disclaimer, I have to say, if it hadn’t been for my friend Sherida trying this herself first (and having her kids loving it) I probably wouldn’t have believed this would have worked. So hopefully if this seems like a super crazy idea I can be the same type of guinea pig for you to find the courage to try it. If you do, you’ll have an added option from your food storage that not only uses up the wheat you’re storing but also saves money at the grocery store and creates healthy “fake your family out” meatless meals. Wheat meat looks and tastes like meat, it’s the same consistency of meat; I think you’ll be as surprised as I was!
The recipe I used comes from the book “A Bite of Independence Through Self Sufficiency”. Unfortunately this great book is out of print and seems to be getting harder and harder to come by. I bought mine off Amazon two years ago for $25 and it’s up to $70-80 last I checked. As far as recipes go, the idea of wheat meat is something this book really dives into (the chapter on it is even called by the authors to be it’s “most important chapter”). There are recipes on how to make all kinds of wheat meat variations from steak and roast to “white meat” meatless chicken nuggets, chicken fried steak, even seafood. Their “ground beef/meatball” variety is what I made today. Based on the success I had I think I’ll be more courageous in trying out some of the other meatless recipes!
Let’s get started!
Basic Raw Wheat Meat
10 cups whole wheat flour
5 cups water
Ground Beef, Meatball / Hamburger Patty Variation
2 1/2 cups moderately packed ground gluten
2 TBS beef soup base
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS white flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder, (or either 2 1/2 TBS dried onion flakes or 1/4 cup chopped onion for better texture)
Tools you’ll need:
a meat grinder (*see note)
Making the Raw Wheat Meat
Combine the flour and the water in the mixing bowl. Using the dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. It’s not necessary to be precise on the measurements of flour and water, what’s needed is for it to become the consistency of bread dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (so it doesn’t dry out) and let it rest in the refrigerator or cool place for 20 minutes to allow the gluten to develop.
After the dough has rested, divide into 1/4th’s and work with one portion at a time, keeping the rest covered while you work. Place a piece of dough in a large colander which is, in turn, placed in a larger bowl of cold water. While keeping it immersed in the water at all times, stretch and compress the dough, trying to keep it intact while the bran and starch are washed out.
Very quickly the mass will resemble bubble gum in texture to the point that it’s difficult to keep together. The “rubbery glob” you now have should be rinsed briefly in a bowl of fresh cold water and then placed in another bowl. What you have is raw wheat meat, or gluten.
Take the raw wheat gluten and form into balls the size of an orange. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until the balls are firm and leathery. (The tough leathery texture helps to give the meaty texture when it’s ground.) You don’t want the balls to get crusty, just firm and leathery, so be sure and keep an eye on it if your oven runs hot.
Remove from oven and let cool. Tear into pieces and put through a meat grinder. When ground, it has the appearance of ground beef. A food processor may be used but the texture won’t be the same.
V. Seasoning, Mixing and Baking to Use
Mix the ground gluten together with the other above mentioned ingredients in a medium bowl. For meatballs, form balls a little smaller than a walnut. For “hamburgers” form into desired larger sized patties. The mixture should be quite moist, add another egg if it’s too dry. Bake in a 300 degree oven just until the eggs are set. Do not overbake!
Middle photo: meatballs / right photo: hamburger patties
For spaghetti and meatballs, heat spaghetti sauce and cook pasta. Add the meatballs to the sauce at the last minute just before serving and heat through. Don’t overcook or your meatballs will begin falling apart. Serve on top of hot cooked pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
The spaghetti and “meatballs” were a big hit! Every one of my kids just loved them and had no clue they weren’t real meat. This made it totally worth the work! Plus the meatballs are highly recommended to freeze for later after having been cooked. I did that, so next time (and the time after that) it’ll be a much easier meal to make.
For the “hamburgers”, I tried the grill route that Sherida tried (though hers looked a lot better). The patties were well cooled in the refrigerator before I put them on to grill, which helped I think in keeping them together. I did have to be extra careful not to burn the patties or overcook them, keeping the flame as low as it would go and watching them closely. Served on homemade buns (recipe here), they went over moderately well with the kiddos. I think because the “meat” was more visable in the burger (rather than covered in sauce as with the meatballs) my cover was blown whereas with the meatballs no one ever suspected a thing. Still, all the kids ate their burgers and appeared to enjoy them while telling me they liked “real meat” better. What was hilarious to me was the comment I got from one child that “this is good but I liked last night’s dinner better” (the spaghetti and meatballs), it having been made from the exact same mix!
- No ideas here as to how to adapt this recipe to be egg free. Please share if you have an idea on how to do that. For now this will be a “wheat rotating” / 3 month recipe for me. Even though it’s not a recipe I could use long term I love that it gives me the chance to get my family to eat more wheat/ less meat!
- This recipe of raw wheat meat made enough for two full meals (serving 6) plus two more dinners worth of “meatballs” to freeze for later. That makes four meals made from 10 cups of wheat flour and 5 cups of water! Pretty cool!!
- I got my meat grinder from a farm supply store. Here’s a link for the same one online. It’s not an expensive one but does the job just fine.