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Flavorful and tender vegan meatballs with spaghetti and tomato sauce, anyone?
Succulent and bursting with Italian flavors, these super easy meatless meatballs are the ultimate vegan and budget-friendly comfort food.
These vegan meatballs are a healthier and cheaper alternative to your regular meatballs, they make a perfect family meal and delicious meal prep or school lunch box (totally kid-approved.
Look what happens when you stir in you spaghetti ?
What ingredients you need
You don’t need fancy ingredients, you can find black beans, breadcrumbs and everything you need at your local supermarket. When I say healthy, cheap and easy, I mean that 😉
- Black beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce or soya sauce
- Tomato paste
- Basil or parsley
- Salt & pepper
How to make them
- Put the ingredients in a food processor (except breadcrumbs)
- Pulse until you get a coarse mixture
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl
- Add breadcrumbs
- Use your hands to mix everything thoroughly
(kneading the mixture bind ingredients together)
- Form about 18-20 small meatballs
- Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes.
- In the meanwhile cook spaghetti and tomato sauce
- Add the vegan meatballs to the tomato sauce
(please note, to cook an easy Italian tomato sauce see the recipe card below)
- Stir gently them gently to cover them in sauce
- Stir in spaghetti and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil
Recipe notes & tips
Are beans cheaper than meat? Yes, beans are amazing cupboard staples and are much cheaper than meat.
This skillet of succulent vegan meatballs in tomato sauce costs about $ 3 ( spaghetti not included). Moreover, it’s ready in less than 30 MINUTES.
What not to love?
ARE BLACK BEANS HEALTHY?
Black beans are packed with protein, fiber and they’re also rich in calcium and magnesium to promote healthy bones. Plus, they help to decrease blood pressure and promote heart health and their selenium content prevents inflammation and might reduce tumor growth rate.
If you serve these vegan meatballs with whole wheat pasta, you’ll get more fiber and micronutrients.
HOW DO YOU MAKE VEGAN MEATBALLS STICK TOGETHER?
Common binders are wheat germ, oats, quinoa, couscous, or ground flaxseeds mixed with water.
However, I simply use bread crumbs.
That might sound a bit unusual, but breadcrumbs are a pretty common “binder” in Italian recipes. Breadcrumbs are a cheap cupboard essential and work well in this kind of recipe, they absorb the moisture and add texture. For example, my mum used to make the classic meatballs mixing ground beef and breadcrumbs!
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN MEATBALLS THAT TASTE GOOD?
I tried meatballs made with chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and in my opinion, black beans are still the best option. They don’t dry out and their flavor is rich and meaty.
Plus, in this recipe, the beans are then blended with savory ingredients like mustard, tomato paste, and flavorsome Worcestershire sauce that add complexity to the dish.
Also, to improve their texture, we can add seed or nuts like delicious walnuts or almonds. However, I love sunflower seeds, they’re cheaper than nuts and give a great texture. Please, don’t skip this ingredient.
COOKING METHOD (revisited):
The first version of this recipe didn’t require baking as an essential step, but only cooking the meatballs in tomato sauce.
I noticed that the meatballs used to hold their shape when gently cooked in the tomato sauce, and I mentioned the baking as an optional step. However, since a few readers struggled with this method, and their meatballs fell apart in the tomato sauce, I now recommend baking them in the oven for about 20 minutes (360F).
Freezable: yes, totally freezable. Make a big batch and freeze the mixture in an airtight container.
You have to try this simple and easy recipe soon, and please let me know if you have a question.
Leave a comment, rate it or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.
I would love to hear from you!
Vegan meatballs in Italian tomato sauce
- 1 15oz-can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 3/4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce or low sodium soya sauce
- 1 Tsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 onion
- 1 small handful fresh basil
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
SIMPLE AND EASY ITALIAN TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped or finely sliced
- 1 15oz-can tomato sauce
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 1 Tsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add black beans to a food processor along with onion, seeds, basil, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine until a textured dough forms (Don't overmix, you don't want a puree').
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add breadcrumbs and mix all the ingredients with your hands.
- Form small meatballs, about 18-20 pieces and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake them for 20 minutes at 360F.
- In the meantime, make the tomato sauce: In a medium skillet/pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic cloves for 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper according to your taste.
- Reduce the heat and cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water.
- When the meatballs are baked and crispy, add them to the tomato sauce and stir gently to coat.
- Drain spaghetti and stir in the skillet along with tomato sauce, vegan meatballs and shredded basil leaves.
- Serve immediately topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and extra fresh basil leaves.