Black-Eyed Pea and Tempeh Beanballs

Black-Eyed Pea and Tempeh Beanballs

[Photograph: FotoosVanRobin on Flickr]

Whether you eat meat, dairy, or no animal products at all, no one should have to go through life without meatballs in some form. And it was with this in mind that I decided to tackle these Black-Eyed Pea and Tempeh Beanballs from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction.

These vegan protein-balls are made from a combination of mashed black-eyed peas and tempeh, a grainy mix of fermented soybeans. By themselves the two ingredients are more texture than flavor, but Moskowitz's deft hand with vegan seasoning rectifies the situation with a mix of tomato paste, soy sauce, balsamic, and a generous handful of other herbs and spices. Once the balls are seasoned and formed they are baked until crisp on the outside and resemble falafel. Although falafel was what I was expecting when I tasted a beanball right out of the oven, it had a much smoother inner texture and a refined, almost Italian flavor. Pretty fantastic for a meatless meatball.

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction. Copyright © 2010. Published by Da Capo Lifelong Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:20 beanballs
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes


  • 12 ounces tempeh
  • One (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 


  1. 1.

    First, prepare a steamer to steam the tempeh. Once the steamer is ready, break the tempeh into bite-size pieces and steam for 10 minutes. 

  2. 2.

    In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

  3. 3.

    In a mixing bowl, use a fork or mini potato masher or avocado masher to mash the beans. They should be well mashed, with no whole beans left, but not completely smooth like a purée. Use a Microplane grater to grate in the garlic (if you don’t have one, just mince it really well). Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar, and mix well.

  4. 4.

    When the tempeh is ready, add it to the mixture and mash well. It’s good if it’s still steaming hot because that will help all the flavors meld before baking. When the mixture is cool enough to handle (a few minutes), add the bread crumbs and salt. Taste for salt (the batter may be a bit bitter; it will mellow out when baked).

  5. 5.

    Using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture per ball, roll the mixture into walnut-size balls, placing them on the baking pan. Spray with an ample amount of nonstick cooking spray and cover loosely with tinfoil. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the balls, and bake for 10 more minutes, uncovered.