Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti

October 17, 2012

Lately, I’ve fallen into a bit of a cooking rut. It’s not that Joe and I have been eating takeout every night, but I haven’t really been cooking anything interesting. Most nights, I find myself falling back on easy staples like roasted veggies, baked chicken breasts for Joe, and some whole grain, such as quinoa, whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Tasty? Sure. But I’ve hardly been pushing myself out of my culinary comfort zone.

This week, I set out on a mission to get back on my cooking game by making our meals from real, actual recipes. Beef stew and biscuits one night, sweet potato and black bean enchiladas another. It’s amazing how putting a little extra effort into meal planning can have incredibly tasty results. But the recipe I was most excited to try was a recipe I found on Cooking Canuck’s site for Cannellini Bean “Meatballs” made with beans, bread crumbs and Italian herbs.

I tweaked the recipe slightly to suit the ingredients I had in my pantry, and added a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese to the mix, too, since I don’t think adding cheese is ever a bad decision. And although Joe was pretty skeptical of the recipe while it was cooking, he was pleasantly surprised with the end product. I don’t think anyone will be fooled into thinking these are actual meatballs, but once they are tossed with marinara sauce and served over whole wheat pasta it creates an incredibly satisfying, flavorful dinner that will keep you full for hours.

We had quite a few leftover “meatballs” and I found that they heat well in the microwave for lunch the next day or dinnertime leftovers. The second time around, I served them alongside a bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts. So tasty!

Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti
Inspired by Cooking Canuck’s Bean Balls
*2 1/2 cups canned white beans, drained or cooked dried beans (such as cannellini beans or my new favorite, cranberry beans)
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 medium yellow onion, grated
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
*Whole wheat angel hair pasta (enough to serve 4)

*In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans and garlic and process with on-off turns until beans are broken up and begin to hold together but are not so processed that they form a paste. Transfer bean mixture to a mixing bowl and add in the onion, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, Parm, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Preheat oven to 375Ā°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop bean balls by heaping tablespoons and shape into circles with your hands, about 2-inches in diameter. Place balls on the baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp around the outside. Remove from oven. Toss with warmed marinara sauce and serve atop whole wheat angel hair pasta. Makes 4 servings

Happy Cooking!

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  • Planning does wonders… otherwise I also make the same thing over and over again. These look fantastic!

    • MadisonMayberry

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? I think when you have the basics down to an art, planning is even more important because otherwise you revert to what you know.

  • I just made your turkey meatballs last night! They were delicious so I’m assuming these will be good too! I love the idea of using beans as the “meat”

    • MadisonMayberry

      Laura, so happy to hear you enjoyed them! Back when I wasn’t a vegetarian, I had a serious love for meatballs and meatloaf. It’s fun to have alternatives now that I’m veg. šŸ™‚

  • natalie@thesweetslife

    love veggie meatballs! made some out of eggplant and mushrooms once and we loved them!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Oh that sounds amazing! Do you have a recipe on your site for them?

  • These look so good! I’m an ex-vegetarian, and still love a good meatless meal idea!

    • MadisonMayberry

      It’s fun to find veg recipes that can please meat eaters and non meat eaters alike. I know if my husband likes them, anyone will!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed my “meatball” recipe! Thanks for featuring it here.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Of course, Dara! Your site is a favorite of mine, and these meatballs are going into our regular rotation. šŸ™‚

  • I’m obsessed with bean balls! This looks like another great recipe! Have you seen In Jennie’s Kitchen the recipe for lentil ricotta ‘meat’ balls? They’re our favorite šŸ™‚

    • MadisonMayberry

      I actually bookmarked a version from Sprouted Kitchen for lentil meatballs that was adapted from Jennie’s Kitchen. Making them next! šŸ™‚

  • Laura

    These look fantastic. Any suggestions for making them gluten free?

    • MadisonMayberry

      My guess is that you could make the breadcrumbs fresh from gluten-free bread by pulsing the gf bread in a food processor until it forms a fine meal. And either serve atop gf pasta or zucchini “pasta” (which I love). I believe doing that would make them gf? Correct me if I’m wrong… šŸ™‚

      • Laura

        Hmmmm, thanks! I’ve never thought of doing zucchini pasta. Maybe I’ll try using some oats tossed in the food processor (I try to not buy/eat gf bread because it’s rather unhealthy). I’ll let you know how it turns out if I try…

  • Chantelle

    what type of marinara sauce did you use?

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