Roasted Walnut Balls

Roasted Walnut Balls

I have to admit a guilty pleasure—buying second hand cookbooks online. They’re just such beauties. I recently ordered Looneyspoons and The Vegetarian Epicure. The Epicure, a 1970s cookbook by Anna Thomas, was exactly as I remembered it from my mum’s collection—a bit tattered around the edges, smoothed corners from plenty of use, yellowing pages, and a spine which seems to crack every time you open it but somehow all the pages are still intact. Even better, whoever had owned it before me had taped in various other useful recipes (“90 minute beer bread,” “Zucchini breakfast cake,” “German mustard”) and there are even a few notes in margins (including “yum yum” over the recipe for Cheese & Scallion Quiche). I love books with character like this. I feel like I’m peeking into someone else’s warm kitchen every time I open this book.

This recipe is just one of many delicious ones I plan on sharing from The Vegetarian Epicure. My mum has both the first and the second volumes, and I grew up peering with interest at the beautifully type-set pages (Optima in all its glory! can you tell I’m a typophile at heart?) and whimsical drawings. Anna Thomas wrote the first volume while in university, and it was snapped up by Vintage Press straight away. (I’m so jealous; why didn’t I think of writing a cookbook while in university?) She wrote volume two while in grad school. I absolutely love how she describes learning to cook, as it was “In self defense! I needed to eat, and who could afford to go out?” Oh Anna, I hear you loud and clear! I recommend taking a look at her website which has a sampling of other recipes and excerpts from her other (also vegetarian) cookbooks. I’ve included the Amazon link at the bottom of this post so you can get your very own copy!

These roasted walnut balls are (surprise, surprise) nutty, smooth, and entirely satisfying. They are vegetarian and delicious, and even being a meat eater, I crave these on occasion instead of meatballs! These go great as a vegetarian option for a holiday meal, or really any other time you feel like something a bit different.

roasted walnut balls

Roasted Walnut Balls

Slightly adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure, p. 199

Makes: 24 balls
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, almonds, or pecans, or a blend
  • 125 g grated sharp/tasty cheddar cheese (about a cup grated)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp parsley, fresh preferred
  • 2 eggs
  • about 3 cups white sauce (see my recipe here for an easy and effective no-lump white sauce)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Make your white sauce in advance. Hint: tired of butter? You can make the white sauce with olive oil instead of butter if you want!

In a food processor, blend the nuts, cheese, breadcrumbs, wheat germ, egg, and onion together until fairly smooth in texture. If you’re not using a food processor, pulverize / finely chop the nuts, cheese, and onion and blend together with the bread crumbs, wheat germ, and egg. Add the parsley (and any other herbs and spices that you might wish, plus some salt and pepper). Slowly add the milk and either mix by hand or pulse in the food processor until the mixture holds together and is slightly sticky, but not glopy, in texture.

Lightly grease a baking dish, and form your dough into meatball-sized shapes, to form about 24. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and set aside while your oven preheats. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F / 180 C until lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and pour the white sauce over, bake for another 15 minutes (or so, use your judgement) until the tops of your roasted balls go a bit golden.

Serve warm!

roasted walnut balls

4 Responses to Roasted Walnut Balls

  1. I made these last night for our meatless dinner and they were fantastic! I didn’t have any parsley and I used rice krispies instead of the breadcrumbs (so maybe they weren’t as stiff as they should have been), but it didn’t seem to matter! I also made your white sauce. It always seemed so easy when I made it with my mom, but now when I make it by myself, I always end up with too little or too much of one of the ingredients. Thanks for clarifying that!

    • Rice Krispies would probably do the trick just fine, and maybe would keep the texture a bit lighter, too. Glad you had success with the recipe & the sauce! 🙂

  2. If I were in a position to award honorific degrees to meals in the fields of ease, nutritional soundness, and deliciousness I would bestow doctorates in all three upon this recipe. As it stands, saying I really enjoyed making and eating these will have to suffice. Yay!

  3. Great post. The Vegetarian Epicure is turn 40! Can you believe it. I recently spoke with Anna Thomas about is and posted a piece on my blog, Since then, folks have been sending me great comments and photo’s of their copies of the book – some are stained and dog-eared, but that’s just fine. I’m gong to compile all the pictures and the best comments and make an online birthday card for VE.

    I was wondering if and of the Three Cheses would you like to contribute a photo of your copy(ies) and any comments. Instructions for submissions are on my site, or you can email them to Thanks.

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