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Scuppernong-Glazed Tempeh Meatballs & Rice

I came up with a recipe using scuppernongs based on a sweet and sour meatball appetizer my mom used to make. It was one of my favorite things!

muscadines and scuppernongs

Photo: Ash Crowe (flickr)

The deep purple muscadine is a native American grape. The scuppernong is a greenish-bronze variety of a muscadine.

Not Quite Like a Grape

Scuppernongs are similar to grapes, except they have a tough skin that is easy to separate from the inner flesh. They taste like grape juice or grape jelly – that sweet, artificial grape flavor we’re all familiar with.

As a child, I used to sit in front of the television with a big paper sack full of scuppernongs and eat and eat and eat! This past weekend, I picked a huge box of scuppernongs at my childhood home.

scuppernongs

Photo: Helen Kopp

Scuppernongs are native to the southeastern United States. They don't grow in tight bunches like grapes, but in clusters of 4 or more fruits.

New Look For an Old Favorite

They’re delicious on their own, but I had so many that I started thinking about fun scuppernong recipes.

I came up with a recipe based on a sweet and sour meatball appetizer my mom used to make. She served the meatballs and their succulent sauce over rice. It was one of my favorite things she made.

Many similar sweet and sour meatball recipes in the south include a jar of grape jelly and a bottle of chili sauce. Since scuppernongs taste like grape jelly, I thought, “Why not use them to make a fresher version of that tangy meatball sauce I grew up with?”

The dish turned out delicious – very close to the original southern version but healthier.

Scuppernong-Glazed Tempeh Meatballs and Rice

For my meatballs, I modified a vegetarian recipe by blogger and cookbook author Vegan Dad. The recipe turned out perfect in texture and flavor.

scuppernong-glazed tempeh meatballs & rice

Photo: Helen Kopp

Many similar sweet and sour meatball recipes include a jar of grape jelly and a bottle of chili sauce.

Tempeh Meatballs Ingredients:

  • 1 8.5 oz package tempeh, grated
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients well, shape into small balls, and let rest while you make the scuppernong glaze.

Scuppernong Chili Glaze Ingredients:

  • 6 cups scuppernongs
  • 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried crushed chili
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  1. For the first three cups of scuppernongs, slice them in half and remove their seeds with your thumbnail. Use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the flesh out of the peel. Drop the peel in the bowl with the flesh (The peels will soften when you simmer the sauce, and much of the nutrients and fiber are in the peels).
  2. For the last three cups, remove the seeds and discard the peels, then puree the flesh in the food processor.
  3. Add the pureed scuppernongs and the de-seeded scuppernongs with their peels to a pot with the remainder of the ingredients. Simmer for about 30 minutes on low, adding more water if necessary if the glaze starts to get too thick and stick to the pot.
  4. While the glaze is simmering, fry the meatballs in a little oil on medium low until cooked through and nicely browned and crispy, about 15 minutes. Add them to the glaze carefully, so they don’t fall apart, and let simmer submerged for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over steamed brown rice, garnished with green onions or fresh herbs.

More: Check out another traditional southern recipe from Helen Kopp’s family: Blueberry Cobbler, Two Ways.

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Helen Kopp

Helen Kopp is a writer and triathlete living in Atlanta, Georgia. She majored in English and Spanish at the University of Georgia. Her favorite things are art, food, language, running, and the ocean. Helen grew up on a small farm in rural Georgia, where she developed her appreciation for whole plant foods and simplicity. She loves sharing the healthy side of Southern cuisine with friends and family, and through her blog Why I Consume Art.

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  • Billie Ann

    Sounds delicious Helen….another great additiion to my recipe book!

  • vonni dusk

    I bought some scuppernongs today. Taste a litte wierd, but ill try the recipe without meat

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