There is no spaghetti in this recipe, nor are there any meatballs. But if you’re in the mood for something with the same sort of flavor without all the weight of a bowling ball in your tummy afterwards, try this healthier alternative! (Note: the “meatballs” don’t really taste like meatballs; I’d say they’re closer to falafel, but if you’re not expecting a meaty taste you won’t be disappointed).
I’ve been really into this vegan recipe website Oh She Glows lately. That’s where I got the idea for the “meatballs” – Italian Bean Balls really. Not only are her recipes awesome and creative, but the food photography is outstanding, and she’s all self-taught. Ok, so onto the bean balls!
Preheat the oven to 350. Take 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and either toast in the oven for 7-9 minutes until fragrant or pan-toast (this is what I did) & set aside in a bowl. Put 3/4 cup oats into a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse flour, then add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add 1 cup shredded carrot, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/3 cup chopped basil (I used a little extra), about 2 large finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, and 3 large minced garlic cloves. Stir. Then drain and rinse a 15-oz can of kidney beans and toss them into the food processor until finely chopped and stir them into the bowl with the mixture. In a mug or little bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp ground flax seed and 3 tbsp warm water and let it sit for 15-20 seconds, then stir into the mix. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp oregano, 3/4 tsp salt, some ground pepper, and (optional) a dash of red pepper flakes. Shape the mixture into 18-20 balls (golf-ball size), packing them tightly between your hands. Place onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes on each side.
I served mine with zucchini “noodles” but you could also do spaghetti squash – I didn’t, only because we just had spaghetti squash a few days ago. If you go the spaghetti squash route, just cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake face down on parchment paper at 375 for about 45 minutes. Then scoop out the contents, and add your toppings. For the zucchini noodles, use a mandolin with a tooth attachment (or grater, or food processor with some kind of shredding attachment) to create long ribbons of raw zucchini. Then either stir fry or microwave (about 2-3 minutes) until tender!
We had our “noodles” and bean balls with our favorite Arrabiata tomato sauce from Russo’s, a little Italian shop down the street. We’re completely obsessed with their homemade sauces. And if you’re not vegan, a little grated asiago cheese on top really takes it up a notch. So good…