December 20, 2016

Greek Veggie Balls with Tahini Lemon Sauce (Vegan)

By Sharon Palmer

Sponsored by Natural Delights Medjool Dates

These delicious vegetarian “meatballs” feature black-eyed peas, flaxseed and Medjool dates for the perfect savory-sweet appetizer at your next holiday fete. Black-eyed peas and flaxseed pack protein and fiber while dates add extra nutrition and a sweet flavor. This is the perfect way to do Meatless Monday, or fit in more plant-based meals during the week.


    Veggie Balls:
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained (or 3 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs (may use gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup nut meal (i.e., almond meal, hazelnut meal, or peanut meal)
  • 5 large Medjool dates, pitted, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt (optional)
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
    Tahini Lemon Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Water, as needed
  • Smoked paprika

Makes 7 servings. Yield 28 veggie balls.

Per Serving (veggie balls and tahini sauce): 385 calories, 17 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 50 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, 11 g dietary fiber, 70 mg sodium.

Prep Time:60 minutes

Cook time:30 minutes


  1. Place drained black-eyed peas in large mixing bowl and mash with potato masher to achieve a smooth texture with some lumps.
  2. Stir in onion, garlic, flax, breadcrumbs, nut meal, dates, tomatoes, parsley, fennel seeds, oregano, pepper, and salt, if using. Mix well.
  3. Add lemon juice to moisten and mix well to create a slightly moist mixture.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make Tahini Lemon Sauce. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and black pepper. Add enough water to make a smooth sauce, according to your desired texture. (A thicker sauce is preferable served on the side with appetizer veggie balls, while a thinner sauce is preferable served on top of an entrée serving of veggie balls.)
  6. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Roll veggie balls into 28 golf-size balls with your hands, and place in skillet. Cook balls, turning regularly, so that all sides are browned, for about 15 minutes. Remove, place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Add remaining olive oil to skillet and cook remaining veggie balls using same technique.
  7. Serve with Tahini Lemon Sauce garnished with smoked paprika.

About the Author
Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, is an award-winning food and nutrition expert, journalist, and editor.

*Sponsors of the Health-e-Recipe program play no role in AICR recipe development; all AICR Health-e-Recipes are developed according to AICR guidelines and tested by AICR staff experts. If you're interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, contact Jodi Street, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations,

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