These vegan cannellini bean and broccoli rabe meatballs are packed with savory, garlicky flavor and are perfect drenched in marinara sauce over spaghetti!
For today’s post I’ve decided to talk about one of my absolute favorite vegetables of all time: broccoli rabe!
During my early twenties I waited tables at an Italian chain restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. It certainly wasn’t a favorite job, but I did learn a few things, among them, to avoid chain restaurants when dining out, and of the existence of broccoli rabe. I think I actually went around for the first month or so without any clue as to what the stuff was, thinking it was just broccoli and the “rabe” was an extra bad typo repeated in multiple locations throughout the menu. When a customer finally informed me of my error I felt rather silly. I went right home to cook up some broccoli rabe and mitigate my ignorance.
I’m now delighted to say that broccoli rabe has since become one of my absolute favorite veggies of all time. Emphasis on “one of.” I’m sure I’ll introduce others later. It’s always hard for me to pick one favorite of anything.
I do tend to get stuck in a bit of a rut with broccoli rabe, as it tastes awesome with just garlic and olive oil, which is exactly how I was planning on preparing my most recent bunch, when I realized, what better way to consume some garlic and olive oil than in the form of some veggie meatballs? The white bean flavor mellows out the bitter character of the broccoli rabe really nicely and adds some meatiness to your veggie meatballs. You could make an entire meal out of just the meatballs here (I did) but they’re amazing with spaghetti or inside of a big old crusty bread sandwich.
Cannellini Bean and Broccoli Rabe Meatballs
- 1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe about 3/4 pound, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 14 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- About 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Marinara sauce for serving (store bought or homemade)
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Steam the broccoli rabe for about 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then place it into the bowl of your food processor. Add the onion, garlic, beans, panko, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Pulse until the broccoli rabe is finely chopped and the beans are partially mashed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Shape the mixture into 2 inch balls (you should get about 20-24).
- Lightly coat a baking dish or large oven-safe skillet with olive oil. Place the meatballs in dish or skillet and brush the with some additional olive oil.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, rolling them around about every 10 minutes to get even browning all around.
- Serve with marinara sauce.