Sweet and Sour “Meatballs”

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Cooking | Comments Off on Sweet and Sour “Meatballs”

Sweet and Sour “Meatballs”

Well, vegan MoFo has officially come to a close but I couldn’t go without posting this recipe.  Sweet and sour meatballs were my favorite childhood food and one of the few Jewish dishes we would regularly eat outside of holidays.  Like the cabbage rolls, it is based on a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce, which might be my favorite thing to eat.  Honestly, I think I could eat the sweet-and-sour tomato sauce with a spoon, never mind the meatballs.  

I tried to recreate this dish with my recipe for lentil meatballs, with moderate success.  The problem is that you can’t boil the lentil balls in the sauce, so the flavor of the sauce doesn’t permeate through as well.  It’s still very tasty, but not perfect.  Next time I might try adding a few tablespoons of the sauce to the lentil meatballs when I cook them.   I would advise leaving out the spices from the lentil meatballs if you make them for this recipe.  If you’re not gluten free, you could also use the sauce with pre-packaged veggie meatballs.


You have to serve this over mashed potatoes with peas, and then pretend that it is a volcano.  At least, that’s how we did it all throughout my childhood.  But seriously, even if you don’t go in for potato volcanoes, you do want to serve this with a nice absorbent carbohydrate to sop up the extra sauce.  Trust me, you don’t want to let a bite go to waste.  Mashed potatoes work very nicely, which is probably where the tradition got started. If you don’t like potatoes, rice is also a good option, or a soft bread.  (Kind of like wonder bread and Texan barbecue, but I digress.)


Please forgive the weird grey mashed potatoes in the pictures, I ran out of white potatoes and had to fill in with blue.  They look way more alarming than they are.  Do blue potatoes have more antioxidants than regular potatoes?  I don’t know, but I find them vaguely unsettling.  They taste good, though.

If you ask three different people to prepare this sauce, you will probably get three very different sauces.  It’s one of those things that is extremely hard to make “just like grandma used to make” because everyone will have a different opinion on how much sugar and how much sour salt to add.  I used nearly 3/4 cup of sugar because I like a very sweet sauce; you might only use 1/4 cup.  I would add a small amount of sugar and sour salt first, then adjust to taste.  But no need to panic if you add too much sugar or too much sour salt, you can just add more of the other one to balance it out.


Wow – somehow I got through the month of Vegan MoFo!  Maybe not as well as I had hoped.  Some explanatory posts will likely be forthcoming.  But now, back to business as usual, starting with my Disney Halloween outfit – kind of a Rockabilly Elsa.  I’m excited to show it to you once I get it done.  If I get it done…

Sweet and Sour "Meatball" Sauce
Recipe type: vegan, gluten free
Cuisine: Jewish
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter or oil
  • ½ - 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp sour salt or 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 28 oz can can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz can chunky tomato sauce (or 1 16 oz can tomato sauce and 1 16 oz can diced tomato)
  1. Chop onion.
  2. Heat butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add tomato sauce, sugar, and sour salt or lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add more sugar or more sour salt to taste.
  3. Ideally, let this sit overnight. Taste again and adjust seasoning with sugar and sour salt. Re-warm and pour over vegetarian meatballs.