Healthy baked veggie balls with carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and onion are amazingly fun, easy to assemble, oil-free, and bake up in the oven. They only taste naughty, so enjoy the batch or better yet – make it a double.
About those veggies…
You know that feeling when you dive into the vegetable crisper and discover a little of this and that? Maybe it’s a bit of cabbage from that slaw the other night, or a few lonely Brussels Sprouts that didn't get included in the sprouts and bacon salad.
Have I got a solution for you!
It’s as easy as grating the veggies. It's even quicker if you run them through the food processor. I used the fine grating blade on mine. This left the vegetables with a bit of texture. Some food processors will turn them into mush, depending on how the fine grating blade is designed. If you’re in doubt, start with a few carrots and try out the settings on your machine.
You can also go 'old school' and use your hand grater. Or you can slice the Brussels Sprouts and cabbage super thin, then chop the slices into smaller pieces. This makes them easier to manipulate and form into balls when mixed with the binders.
And you can choose super easy and use a bag from the store that is ready to roll. You probably won’t find that for the sprouts, though, so it may not be worth the work.
Don’t skip this step!
Here’s one of the most important steps – press your veggies! Once you get the veggies grated, they will be moist. It doesn’t matter if you hand grate or us the food processor, the result is the same. You don’t need to get every drop of water out, but you do want to take a minute to press the moisture out.
The easiest way to accomplish this task is to lay a few pieces of paper towel on a plate, then pile on the grated veggies and press using another paper towel. Likewise, you can place them in a colander, and put that in the sink and then press with the towel. Either way, the idea is releasing the moisture.
Can you use other veggies?
One batch of veggie balls requires 3 cups of grated veggies. We love the combination of carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. If, however, you want to make a substitution or add a little bit of something else, go forward and experiment. If you do, be mindful that some vegetables, when grated like zucchini, will have a lot of water, so be extra careful to press it well. My advice is to start with the carrot-sprout-cabbage trifecta and make ingredient adjustments the next time you make them – and, yes, there will be the next time.
The combination of whole wheat flour and cornstarch creates the binder that holds the veggies together. Using whole wheat isn’t just about us being whole food, plant-based compliant. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture than more highly processed white flour. This makes your veggie balls a bit stickier to work with, but the payoff is that they will hold together.
Because whole wheat flour includes the entire wheat kernel (endosperm, bran, and germ) you even get more protein and fiber. That’s all good, but what’s even better is that whole wheat flour has more flavor. It’s kind of nutty and a bit sweet.
How to make veggie balls gluten-free
Although I’m busy bragging up whole wheat, I also want to be sensitive to sensitivities. In this case, gluten. Any of the following would be suitable. I’ve not tried them all, so make adjustments in the amount of flour if necessary.
Brown rice flour
Cornmeal (corn flour)
Oat flour (be sure to read the label that it’s certified gluten-free)
Chickpea flour is also a viable gluten-free option and will give your veggies more of a falafel vibe. If you use this, you might need to add an extra tablespoon as chickpea flour is finer than whole wheat flour. It can also get sticky, so be prepared when you put your hand in the bowl. And yes, you get to mix this with your hands. It’s the best way to test to see if you can form balls and if you need to adjust the flour.
You want balls that will stick together and not fall apart. Test, reform, adjust if necessary, and retest. I always keep a small measuring cup of flour handy because I don’t like putting my messy hand directly into the bag of flour. I can’t tell you how many remnants I’ve had to spend time fishing out of flour bags because I got in a hurry to get my hands in there. Besides, I invariably stick the bag somewhere on the counter where it magically comes in contact with liquid. My flour bags end up looking like they’ve gone to the culinary war. That’s not quite the presentation I like to see when I head to the pantry.
Mixing in the flour and cornstarch and making the balls will take only a few minutes. If you leave them sitting on the baking tray for too long before baking, they will start to get too moist. This can lead to delicious little hockey pucks. If you get interrupted and leave the bowl, check the texture and add a bit more flour to absorb the moisture that may accumulate. It's my roundabout way of suggesting that before you dip your hand in the bowl, in addition to a little reserve of flour, do the following 3 things:
1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. This makes it easier to get the balls off the parchment paper.
2. Make sure you have an available middle rack in the oven. It’s on my list because I am always having to grab oven mitts at the last minute to adjust the darned racks. Drives me crazy!
3. Preheat the oven to 4250 F (2200 C).
Now, prepare to get thy hands messy! In a medium bowl, mix together ⅓ cup of flour, 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch, and ½ tsp. of salt. Add the grated veggies and small diced onion and start mixing. Ok, you can start with a spoon, but you’ll soon need to put a hand in there to mush everything together. You want the veggies all covered with the flour mixture.
The best way to ensure that your veggie balls cook evenly is to make them relatively the same size. Think large walnut to a ping-pong ball. If you make them too big, it’s challenging to get them cooked in the middle without them browning too much on the outside.
If you drop the ball on the tray and it starts to flatten, it’s another sign that you need more flour. The hot oven will keep them from falling in the middle, but they won’t magically puff up as they bake. Where you start is where you will end.
As a guide, this mix makes about 9-12 veggie balls. They won’t spread out the way cookies do but don't let them touch when you place them on the tray. They should take about 20 minutes to bake. You don’t want to flip them, just let them brown up and lightly press on them to check for firmness.
What to serve with baked veggie balls
There are a few directions to go with this recipe. You can serve the balls with a variety of dips such as hummus, sweet potato dip, or beetroot hummus. They are great served in a salad with cilantro lime dressing, vegan ranch (oh yum!), or lemon-tahini.
Who would think there’s yet another way to grab Brussels sprouts? Not me until I tried these. And the simplicity of it all – grated veg, diced onion, and 3 dry ingredients. Nothing fancy, just loads of flavor along with that satisfaction I can’t define that has to do with bites that taste naughty but aren't. I’m going to keep those coming because life’s too short not to enjoy the eating part. Peace.Print
baked veggie balls
Healthy baked veggie balls with carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and onion are amazingly fun, easy to assemble, oil-free, and bake up in the oven.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 9-12 veggie balls 1x
- Category: On the side
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Plant-based
- Diet: Vegan
- 3 cups (in total) finely grated carrots, Brussels sprouts and cabbage
- ½ cup onion diced small
- ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp. corn starch
- ½ tsp. salt
- Start by grating the veggies. Use a hand grater or food processor on a fine blade.
- Line a plate or tray with a few sheets of paper towel and spread the veggies out. Then using another paper towel to press the moisture out. Alternatively, you can press the vegetables in a small mesh colander.
- Preheat the oven to 4250 F (2200 C) and set the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Prepare your baking tray by lining it with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, corn starch, and salt.
- Add the veggies to the flour combination and using your hands, mix everything together. The mixture should be moist, but you should be able to form balls with it. If not, add a bit more flour.
- Form balls from the dough. Make them about the size of a walnut and place them on the baking sheet and then into the oven.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the balls are a bit brown on the top. One indication that they are done is if they do not stick to the bottom. Resist the urge to flip them as this will cause them to flatten.
- Nutritional information is per veggie ball (we know you'll eat somewhere between 1 and the entire tray).
- The dough will start to accumulate moisture quickly, so be sure you preheat the oven and get the balls baking as soon as you get them on the baking tray.
- Don’t skip the step about pressing the veggies. You want to be able to form a ball that won’t collapse when you place it on the baking tray. The best way to determine 'ball fitness' is to mix the dough with your hand. Continue testing and adding flour (about ½ a tablespoon at-a-time) until you can form balls that will stay together.
- Make balls that are walnut to ping-pong ball size. If you get them too large, it will be challenging to get them done in the middle without burning them on the outside. To ensure even baking, keep the balls relatively the same size.
Keywords: Baked veggie balls