Spaghetti & Beanballs: A Vegetarian Take on an Old Classic

A love for cooking definitely runs in my family. Growing up, my mom and aunt always prepared the most delicious meals; it served as a true inspiration to my culinary adventures. They had “go-to” recipes but still weren’t afraid to experiment – sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Either way, you still have fun mixing it up in the kitchen, right?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am the only vegetarian in my family – so reconstructing those family favorites was quite a task. If there was one dish my mom is known for, it would definitely be her meatballs. I can’t remember a family event when she wasn’t asked to bring a batch. Considering that I’m not “afraid” of meat (I just don’t eat it) and that my boyfriend is a die-hard meat fan, I decided to make a batch for him.

I was then inspired to not just create a vegetarian version, but a VEGAN one! I’m not a vegan, but some of my favorite dishes I’ve made happened to be vegan. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot – besides, the “meatball” is simply an accessory to a spaghetti dish, right?

Well, it turned out that not only were the vegetarian meatballs easy to make, they were DELICIOUS! Even Nick liked them!  I pulled the recipe from my handy dandy Veganomicon – whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater, I highly recommend this book. It is chock full of hearty and satisfying recipes. I actually made two recipes from this book, Spaghetti and Beanballs (p. 189) and Homemade Marinara Sauce (p. 205).


For Homemade Marinara Sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t oregano
1/2 t salt
couple grinds of black pepper


For Beanballs:

20 oz. can of cooked kidney beans
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 T. olive oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. steak sauce or tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
1/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. thyme

The Method:

For sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium-low.  Add the garlic and cook about a minute.  Don’t let it burn.
  2. Add the rest, cover, bring to simmer over medium heat, then turn it down to low and simmer 15 minutes.

For Beanballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 375* and spray rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  2. Mash kidney beans using potato masher or food processor. I used my food processor and it worked well. Some beans were left whole and that was OK with me. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Knead with your hands for about a minute once combined.
  3. Roll into balls – I got about 20 out of this using 3 cups of beans – and place on baking sheet. Spray beanballs with a little more oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake again for 10 minutes.
  4. The book says to cover them in the sauce and baked them again for 5 minutes. I decided to just let them simmer in the sauce for a couple of hours since that’s what my mom’s recipe called for. It turned out fantastic – less clean-up and a more flavorful ball!
  5. Now the only cooking left to do is cook that pasta according the directions on the package.
  6. I topped my plate off with some vegan Parmesan by Rice Dream – it actually tastes a lot like Kraft grated parmesan.
  7. Now, pour a glass of wine. Sip. Eat. Enjoy.

6 thoughts on “Spaghetti & Beanballs: A Vegetarian Take on an Old Classic

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