Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
Recipe type: Main Course, Vegetarian
Serves: 6-8 servings
This classic comfort food just got a healthy upgrade with tons of fresh veggies. Vegan spaghetti and meatballs is delicious, nutritious, and super satisfying. Feel free to get creative with the vegetables in the sauce. Use whatever you like best. If vegan meatballs frighten you (yikes!), use regular meatballs instead.
  • Sauce:
  • 3 medium Carrots
  • 1 small Yellow squash
  • 1 small Zucchini
  • 1 Red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 large stalk Celery (keep leaves on if they're there)
  • ½ medium Onion
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • ¼-1/3 cup Red wine (or sub vegetable liquid--see instructions)
  • 2-28 oz cans Crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon Sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Meatballs:
  • ½ cup Cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup Walnuts (or sub panko bread crumbs)
  • ¾ teaspoon Olive oil
  • ¼ medium Onion, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup Fresh basil
  • 1 large Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
  • ¾ cup (about ½ can-sorry!) Black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • scant ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb Spaghetti
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  1. Cook the brown rice according to package instructions.
  2. For the sauce:
  3. All of the vegetables need to be shredded or very finely chopped. I find the easiest and quickest method of doing this is to roughly chop everything and then toss it all in the food processor and pulse it 5-7 times or until the vegetables are quite small and uniformly sized, but not pureed. If you don't have a food processor you can use the large holes on a box grater. Give the chopped vegetables a light squeeze to release some of the excess liquid. Reserve the liquid if you don't plan to use the wine. Rinse the container of your food processor, but don't wash it. You'll use it again for the meatballs.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shredded vegetables, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Saute the mixture for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add the wine or ¼ cup reserved vegetable liquid and use a wooden spoon so scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet. Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and another ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.
  5. Meanwhile make the meatballs:
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place oven rack in upper third of oven. Heat ¾ teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until onion is fragrant, soft, and lightly golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Add walnuts, minced garlic, brown sugar, parsley, and basil to a food processor (a blender will work too). Pulse 5-7 times or until the mixture looks like large crumbs. Add drained black beans and pulse 3 more times. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rice, sauteed onion, and panko bread crumbs. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Form mixture into about 14 evenly sized balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle very lightly with a bit of olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The balls should be crisp to the touch and lightly golden brown.
  8. While the meatballs are cooking bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Place the drained noodles in a large serving bowl. Top with sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water and toss to combine. Serve the meatballs on top of the individual plates of pasta.
Recipe by Just Warm Bread at