Spaghetti & Meatballs
So remember that one time I talked about using quinoa instead of lentils in my faux ground beef experiment? This recipe has been perfectly refined according to that little experiment! When I was first tinkering with a vegan meatball recipe many, many moons ago…I think the recipe called for brown rice, lentils, and oats. Now I’m not hating on any one of those ingredients-I love them ALL. But all together AND paired with spaghetti…it’s, umm, a lot? For me, at least…it just seemed like a lot of really heavy ingredients. And while CARBS ARE LIFE. Literally we need them to live…I wanted to add in some other good stuff like healthy fats and protein HELLO QUINOA AND WALNUTS!
Out of all of the recipes I’ve tried and developed over the years, in and out of veganism and solely plant based eating, this is the one I’ve experimented with the most. And it’s never been bad, but it could have been better…until now!
So let’s break this down:
Trial 1: Base ingredients were brown rice, oats, and lentils and walnuts? Can’t totally remember everything. They were good. But it was a bit too much.
Trial 2: Base ingredients JUST walnuts and lentils-inspired by my fave Lentil and Walnut “Ground Beef”. These were also very tasty but the texture was not great. They fell apart very easily and were desperate for more structure. For example: The next day you wouldn’t be eating leftover spaghetti and meatballs, it’d be spaghetti with “meat sauce”…which wasn’t a bad thing necessarily…just not the desired outcome.
Trial 3: Base ingredients are quinoa and walnuts. Plus just a minimized recipe with few steps but a delicious outcome!
This new and improved recipe still tastes amazing because of the magic and convenience of Italian seasoning! The familiar flavors are there so we just need to bring the other ingredients together to form the perfect vegan meatball! PLUS you decide how you cook these pretty little things. Bake them or cook them on the stove top-either way is delicious!
An added bonus is that these are totally kid friendly! My little ones (5 and 2.5 yo) LOVE these meatballs! They request them all the time and I’m so happy to whip them up a batch. These would be perfect for meal planning, or even making ahead of time and freezing! They hold together great without falling apart while simmering in your marinara sauce and are even more amazing the next day!
Vegan Italian Meatballs
Alix | August 2019
- prep time: 15 minutes
- cook time: 25 minutes
- total time: 40 minutes
Servings: Makes 14-15 meatballs depending on how large you make them.
- 2 Cups cooked Quinoa
- 2 Cups Raw Walnuts
- 1 Flax Egg ( 1 TBS flax + 3 TBS warm water)
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (use gluten free if necessary)
- 1 TBS Italian Seasoning
- 2-4 TBS Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- Black Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water, if needed.
- 1lb Whole Wheat or GF Spaghetti, or spaghetti squash
- Make your own marinara or use store-bought! I use my local grocery store's store brand organic original marinara! I use 2 full jars!
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Begin by preparing your quinoa. I typically use a 1:2 ratio when cooking quinoa. So bring 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups of water (or veggie broth) to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy and all liquid has been absorbed.
- While quinoa is cooking, prepare your other ingredients starting with your flax egg. Mix together ground flax and water and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse your walnuts, spices, & nutritional yeast, and bread crumbs
- To a large bowl, add your walnut mixture, quinoa, and flax egg. Mix with a fork. If the mixture seems dry and cannot be formed into a ball, then begin adding water 1 tablespoon of water a time until a the mixture is not crumbly and can be easily formed into a meatball. BONUS: Taste your mixture! You can't do that using real beef, can ya?! Adjust your seasonings as necessary.
- TWO COOKING OPTIONS: Bake your meatballs for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Or you can cook on the stove top. Over medium heat, cook your meatballs in about a tablespoon of olive oil unil all sides are crispy. Add your marinara sauce until meatballs are well coated.
- Serve over whole wheat pasta, gluten free pasta, or spaghetti squash!