Pumpkin Meatless Meatballs with a Cranberry Sauce

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Pumpkin Meatless Meatballs with a Cranberry Sauce

On Christmas Eve, my family gets together to exchange gifts, eat delicious appetizers, and spend time together.  Because a large portion of my family is vegetarian, we always have meatless meatballs in a mushroom soup style of sauce. This year, I wanted to give them a twist and came up with pumpkin meatless meatballs in a cranberry sauce.  Yup. I added a fruit and a vegetable to our holiday tradition, win!

Pumpkin Meatless Meatballs with a Cranberry Sauce

I was encouraged to Become Carton Smart with Tetra Paks from Pacific foods this holiday season, so they sent me pumpkin puree, cranberry sauce, and chicken stock.  Being a vegetarian, the chicken stock wasn’t going to get much use in my house.  It did come in a cute little 8 oz package (similar to an organic milk box) so I passed it on to my sister to enjoy.

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These meatless meatballs come together fast and are screaming “holiday flavors!”  They make a great appetizer on Thanksgiving or Christmas or an interesting vegetarian meal with some pasta.  Does your family ever serve cocktail weenies in a grape jelly and ketchup sauce?  That was my inspiration for the cranberry sauce that goes with these meatballs.  It’s a little tangier and a little more grown up (and definitely tastes like it would make a fantastic sloppy joe sauce).

Pumpkin Meatless Meatballs with a Cranberry Sauce

I didn’t use the whole package of pumpkin for this recipe and was pretty impressed how you could fold the top over for storage.  It was also a lot easier to fit into my cupboard, because there was no wasted space like you can get with round cans.  The cartons use less packaging compared to cans, too, and are made from renewable resources.  Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest or Tweet @CartonSmart to get more info on what other items come in these Tetra Paks.

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Pumpkin Meatless Meatballs with a Cranberry Sauce

  • Meatballs
  • ¾ c finely chopped pecans
  • ⅓ c cheese (I recommend cheddar. Vegans use a cheese alternative or omit)
  • ½ c finely chopped mushrooms
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ¾ tsp rubbed sage
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ onion, minced
  • /2 c pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • ⅓ c breadcrumbs (GF: use GF bread crumbs or crushed gluten free crackers)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sauce
  • 15.6 oz cranberry jell sauce
  • 1 c ketchup (preferably naturaly without HFCS)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients for meatballs and stir until well mixed. Add a little more pumpkin or bread crumbs, if necessary, to obtain a sticky texture.
  3. Press and roll into 16 balls. Set on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully roll (may stick a little!) after 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. While the meatballs bake, use the microwave or a pan over low heat to warm the cranberry sauce. Add the ketchup, garlic powder, salt, and papper, then whisk until well combined. Heat until hot.
  5. To serve: Roll meatballs in sauce or pour sauce over meatlballs and serve immediately. If serving buffet style, keep meatballs and sauce separate, allowing guests to pour or dip as they like.

Makes 16 meatballs with ample sauce.
This recipe can be directly doubled or tripled without issue.
Do NOT serve meatballs and sauce mixed together. Because pumpkin is the main binding agent and these balls are baked instead of fried, they will fall apart after 10 minutes in sauce. If you’d like to be able to keep them warm while serving, put meatballs and sauce in separate slow cookers or warming trays.


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    Julia Dec 23, 2013

    I didn’t realize I could get pumpkin puree or cranberry sauce in a tetra pak! I use Pacific organic broth all the time, so I’ll have to try out these other fun products 🙂

    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl Dec 23, 2013

    Great idea for that cranberry sauce! I have a carton of it in my pantry so this would be perfect!