I’m generally not a fan of meat substitutes in vegetarian cooking however some styles of cooking such as this Italian classic is easy to make and fun to eat. Not a Linda Macartney Sausage or Quorn Mince pack in sight. I first made these a few years ago inspired by a recipe I found online, I’ve since modified it to my taste, made it a bit lighter and rolled smaller balls to make each bite of the rich tomato sauce, veggie ball and spaghetti delectable.
Vegetarian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Veggie Meatballs
60g grated parmesan
60g of pecans
2 heaped tablespoons of cottage cheese
1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used Basil & Thyme)
Salt & Pepper to season
- Tomato Sauce
2 cloves garlic
dash Balsamic vinegar
1 can Chopped tomatoes or carton of passatta
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon dried herbs (i used Basil & Oregano)
100g Spaghetti per person
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Use a food processor to make your breadcrumbs from a stale loaf or toasted fresh bread, pulse until you have fine crumbs. Then add the pecans and pulse again until they become crumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients (parmesan, cottage cheese, herbs, seasoning, eggs) and blend until you have a sticky mixture. Grease a glass oven dish and lightly oil your hands and scoop out small amounts of the mixture and roll small 1.5inch balls and place onto the dish. You should be able to make around 24. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, they should be golden brown and firm when done.
2. Whilst your veggie balls are cooking, start the tomato sauce by frying the chopped onions on a low to medium heat in olive oil for 10 minutes, once soft add the minced garlic and dried herbs and continue cooking for a few more minutes. At this stage I also like to add finely chopped basil stalks for flavour, leaving the leaves to garnish the dish. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 a glass of water and bring to a simmer. Add a glug of balsamic vinegar, the salt and sugar and stir well and leave to simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. I like a semi smooth sauce with the veggie balls so at this stage I use a handheld blender to make a smooth sauce leaving a few bits of onions for a little texture.
3. Add the balls to the tomato sauce and allow to gently simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Cook your pasta as per the instructions, drain and serve in bowls topped with a generous helping of the delicious veggie meatball sauce scattered with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy with a glass of juicy Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, salute!