The way I came to this recipe, was to try something new/different than the normal spaghetti. My father loves Spaghetti and I wanted to make it whilst they were staying with us, one spring a few years ago. Growing up we used to have spaghetti with a basic potato curry!! That was normal for us back then, now it is comforting with fond childhood memories….. After marriage, we have spaghetti with bechemel (white sauce) or ragu (red sauce), or in recent times with asparagus, avocado or plain with olive oil and garlic
(so as not to insult the Italian dish with the potato curry). Although this is not a traditional Italian, but a Italian / American dish~ Spaghetti and meat balls, I have always wanted to try it as you see it everywhere, on TV, in movies, food/cooking shows, quick meal recipes in magazines etc. I had found the recipe on Pinterest (it became a very good resource in the last few years for me), but it was for a sub sandwich, and I thought it would work for the spaghetti with veggie balls.
Vegan Spaghetti Balls
As always I have altered the recipe to our taste buds and changed a few things, especially the oil as it was not necessary to have so much. Aubergines have many health benefits, especially fibre, but they really soak up a lot of oil, the more you give the more it will absorb! When I made this the first few times, I did put breadcrumbs and used more oil…. however each time, I tweaked the recipe slightly to make it more healthy. I have added ground walnuts or almonds, milled linseed. Initially I did not have or use nutritional yeast, now that I have started using it, the only thing it adds to it is the cheesy taste but you can leave it out.
If you wish to batch cook or have left overs then the vegetable balls do freeze well and can be had when a healthy meal is needed quickly.
Another alternative to the aubergines are mushrooms, I have altered the recipe and tried that too. We enjoy both the versions, however the aubergine one seems to be more creamy and tasty, where as the mushrooms give a more nutty / earthy taste.
Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 30 mins Serves: 4
For the veggie balls
1 large aubergine diced into small cubes or 250 g chestnut mushrooms diced into small cubes
1 large white onion diced
2 tbsp chopped garlic
handfull of fresh basil
1 tbsp of dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp of fresh rosemary finely chopped or dried
1/2 cup each of ground walnuts and almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp each salt & pepper
For the sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
For the Spaghetti
8oz or 227g Spaghetti
Enough hot water to cook the spaghetti in
salt to taste
1) Heat a medium pan and put in the olive oil, the chopped onion and aubergine or mushroom, and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.
2) Once translucent add the garlic, herbs and spices. Cook until well browned and all of the water is burnt off.
3) Switch off the heat and add the ground nuts and nutritional yeast, mix well and let it cool slightly.
4) Once cool enough to handle, roll into balls ( if you wet your hands then it makes it easier) and set aside to cool completely.
5) Prepare the pasta sauce. I tend to use the same pan as a lot of the flavours from the balls would get transferred into the sauce. Heat the passata with the salt, pepper and herbs, until slightly thicker.
6) Cook the spaghetti as per cooking instructions on the packet. I tend to boil the kettle and then pour in a pan, add salt and then the necessary quantity of spaghetti. You have to make sure there is enough water to cover and some more.
7) Just before serving, you can grill or shallow fry the vegetable balls. When ready to serve, place a portion of the spaghetti on a plate, then add the sauce, and the vegetable balls (I tend to give 3 per serving). Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil leaves, if you like you can add cheese too. Buon appetito 🙂