Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs: I Believe in Miracles

I heard the whispers for months. "Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs are soooo good!" said one. "They really taste like meat!" said another. "Even my carnivore boyfriend likes them!" declared a third. I wanted to believe them, but another part of me said, "No, no, Diana, don't be fooled by their clearly exaggerated pontifications! Do you remember the Trader Joe's frozen spinach lasagna disaster?" I nodded. It ended up in the garbage. And the inside of my dinner napkin.

After a few months of hemming and hawing every time I passed through the frozen food aisle at my local West Hollywood Trader Joe's, I finally made the plunge. I put a bag of the meatless
meatballs in my shopping basket, paid for them (I don't steal) and proceeded to park them in my freezer for the next five weeks. Every time I contemplated testing out the highly-lauded soy-based wonder balls, I found myself reaching for a box of Amy's frozen spinach pizza instead. Why risk a garbage bag reaction when I could be assured of Amy's delightful cheesy goodness?

Then one day, it happened. I grew a pair and extracted those balls from the freezer like a woman on a mission -- a mission for quick and easy spaghetti and meatball satisfaction!

I like to think of the months that followed that fateful day as a new period in my life. I, Diana H., the carnivorous diner and picky palatted princess, was immediately transformed into a Trader Joe's Meatless Meatball believer. The transformation has been so total and complete (think Extreme Makeover on ABC) that I now whip up a batch of said meatballs and spaghetti on a weekly basis, and find myself craving them like I would crave a thick steak or juicy pork chop. My admiration for these meatless wonders is so profound that I can't even imagine ever rolling my own meaty meatballs again. Bold statement? Yes. But, I'm "ballsy" enough to say it again.

Of course not every meatless meatball experience is created equal. There is a right way (my way) and a wrong way (everyone else's way) to prepare a plate of meatless meatballs and spaghetti. Follow the easy instructions listed below and you'll wind up with something that looks like the image at the top of this post. I triple dog dare you to serve them to your boyfriend/husband/male friend and see if he can tell the meatballs aren't actually made with meat.

Diana H.'s Easy-Peasy Meatless Meatballs & Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Serves: 1

7 Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs
1/2 cup Newman's Own Sweet Onion & Garlic Tomato Sauce
1 serving of Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Italian Seasoning
Red Pepper Flakes

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Cook pasta according to instructions on package (boil water, salt water, etc. It's not rocket science, people!) While pasta is cooking, bake the 7 meatless meatballs on a baking sheet lined with foil. DO NOT cheat and microwave them! It will lead to extreme meatball sogginess and unhappy stomach syndrome!

Step 3: Drain pasta. Combine with sauce, baked meatballs, some shakes of red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Plate.

Step 4: Sprinkle meatballs and spaghetti with ample parmesan. Place plate (make sure it is oven safe!) in the oven until the cheese melts and the top looks a little crusty. Don't worry -- it's good crusty. Not sleep-in-the-eyes crusty.

Step 5: Remove from oven (with a hot pad, please!) and serve with steamed broccoli. Why? Because it's nutritious, is delicious when dipped in tomato sauce and I said so.


leila said...

I love learning about tasty meatless options (as you and I both know, the bad in this genre is so terribly bad)! Will have to try them out soon! Thanks for the tip.

Jennifer said...

I remember my own frozen meatless disaster. Meatless ribs. I was informed they were tasty. I was mislead. (Shuddering)

You had me until the crusty eye bit. Ewwww....