To me, nothing says more comfort than a delicious big bowl of pasta, especially spaghetti with a flavorful tomato sauce! And it’s best when you have also an extra addition on top, like these vegan ‘meaty’ bean balls which contain also protein. This is really one of those meals you can always turn to when you want something to lift your mood and make you feel satisfied.
VEGAN ’MEATBALLS’ MADE OF BEANS
One year ago I’ve already shared a recipe for vegan ‘meatballs’ made of black beans on my blog. Since this time I variated the ingredients now and then and tried some other combinations but I think with using beans as a base they just get the best texture and taste. I don’t want to pretend that these balls taste like traditional meat balls, but I can assure you these are a perfect flavourful plant-based option with a great texture! It makes me happy creating vegan alternatives which taste so good that even people who are not vegan are convinced. That’s always my goal with vegan and vegetarian recipe creation. I just want to show you options so that you can see that it’s possible to cook delicious meals even without meat. The hardest part of recipe creation is always choosing which ingredients (in this case beans), I should use. But finally, kidney beans won so far because I used black beans last time and I always use chickpeas in my falafel. But you can, of course, also use other beans for this recipe. Just be creative!
THE PERFECT FLAVOURS AND SPICES
To infuse some flavours, I added aromatic mushrooms and some Italian seasonings, such as fresh basil, dried oregano, smoky paprika, and tomato paste to the mixture. For an extra special nutty flavour, toasted walnuts really took it all to the next level. I really love the combination of walnuts and tomato (like in my ‘walnut pesto‘), but you can also use any other nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts or sunflower seeds for a nut-free version. Otherwise, you can also leave them out completely, but then you won’t have this certain special taste.
THE PREPARATION OF THE BEAN BALLS
I baked the bean balls in the oven until golden and quite firm, so they don’t get mushy in the tomato sauce. In the meantime, I cooked the pasta and prepared the tomato sauce in a pot. Once it’s ready I gently fold in the bean balls to cover in the sauce and then serve it immediately. The bean balls will soften with time, so it’s best not to leave them in the sauce for too long. With a sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes and freshly ground black pepper, this yummy nutrient-rich dish taste just heavenly!
By the way, for any variety, you can also shape the bean ball mixture into burger patties instead of balls to make a delicious sandwich or burger if you like. They’re also great as a snack for in between or to take away.
If you tried the recipe, I would appreciate a comment. You are also welcome to post a picture on Instagram and link it to @biancazapatka, so that I can see your post and leave a comment.
Vegan 'Meatballs' with Spaghetti and Tomato SauceAuthor:
For the bean balls:
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans
- 200 g mushrooms chopped (*see recipe notes)
- ⅓ heaped cup walnuts or other nuts, seeds*, finely chopped and toasted
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ onion diced
- ½ cup (gluten-free) rolled oats processed into flour (*see recipe notes)
- 1 flax egg *see recipe notes
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp tamari sauce
- ½ tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- chili powder optional
- a splash of lemon juice
For the tomato sauce:
- 9 oz spaghetti pasta
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the oats to the food processor and ground them into flour.
- Cut the mushrooms and onion. Mince the garlic cloves.
- Rinse and drain kidney beans.
- Toast the walnuts in a pan without oil until fragrant and golden.
- In another pan, heat some oil and sauté diced onions for 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the sautéd onion, mushrooms, and garlic along with toasted walnuts and kidney beans to a food processor and pulse into a coarse mixture.
- Mix in ground oats (or bread crumbs), the flax egg, tamari sauce, tomato paste, and the seasonings.
- Combine well and shape into balls.
- Place each ball on the prepared baking sheet an inch or two apart.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden on both sides. (Gently flip the balls halfway through.)
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth powder, and fresh basil. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- After baking, fold the balls into the sauce. Serve with spaghetti or other pasta and tomato sauce and sprinkle some of nutritional yeast on top, if you like.
- Instead of mushrooms, you can also use other vegetables or just leave them out completely.
- To make this recipe nut-free, you can use sunflower seeds instead.
- Instead of oats, you can also use (gluten-free) bread crumbs.
- To make the flax egg, whisk together 1 tbsp ground flax and 3 tbsp water in a mug and let it swell until jelly.
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