Vegan Meatballs & Spaghetti….that transform into Herby Falafels as leftovers. Two meals for the price of one!
Serves 5 | Makes 25 “Meat”balls/Falafels
Those of you that follow my recipes will know that one of my very favourite things to do in the world is to transform traditional, hearty comfort food into its healthier super-cousin, and these spaghetti and meatballs are no exception! Actually, come to think of it, very few things in life get me more excited…back in the day, it used to be shoes that got my pulse racing, but nowadays it’s upping our nutrition game! I never want my husband or kids (or myself for that matter) to feel like we are missing out, so I am always looking for new ways to make our meals as nutrient dense as possible. Spaghetti and meatballs are, of course, a classic family favourite and this version makes an appearance in our house on a weekly basis. I served these particular meatballs on a mixed bed of Turmeric Lentil Noodles and Wholegrain Noodles, so that I upped the protein (from the lentils) and fibre (from the wholegrains) content even more.
By the way, I just discovered those High Protein Turmeric Lentil Noodles in M & S and they are a game changer! This isn’t sponsored, I was just excited to see more healthy vegan options on the high street! But please be aware they are not gluten free for all you coeliacs out there.
For the tomato sauce, obviously any one will do the trick nicely, but if you are in a batch-cooking-veggie-loading kinda mood, then I highly recommend my “Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” tomato sauce. My freezer is stocked full of individual portions of these, as I use it for so much — pizza, pasta, lasagne and shakshuka to name just a few. It contains tomatoes (duh!), onions, courgettes, spinach and carrots, so is a great way of adding hidden veggies into your (and the kids) diet.
Here is the link to my old recipe: www.medium.com/@thewrightfoodie/everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-tomato-sauce-75e1d3680f14
Nutrition fact of the day! Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which is what gives them their lovely red colour. Although there is lycopene in raw tomatoes, it actually becomes more readily available to the body when it is cooked, so having pasta and tomato sauce could be healthier than you think! Studies have shown that lycopene might play a role in preventing or even slowing down the growth of some cancers, particularly prostate cancer.
And lastly, these meatballs keep nicely for a few days when stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge. I enjoy them with some humous and a salad, much like a falafel. This recipe is the gift that keeps on giving!
For the “Meat”balls
· 1 Medium Onion
· 1 Leek
· 4 Garlic Cloves
· 1 Flax egg (or normal egg if not vegan)
· 125g Chickpeas (tinned and drained)
· 120g Green Lentils (cooked)
· 15g Grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan-style cheese/Nutritional Yeast Flakes)
· 90g Breadcrumbs (I used Gluten-free Brown Rice Breadcrumbs)
· 1 tsp dried Rosemary
· 1 tsp dried Sage
· 1 tsp dried Thyme
· Optional: Chilli flakes to taste
· 2 tsp Olive Oil
· Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
For the Coating
· 3 tbsp Breadcrumbs
· 3 tbsp Sesame Seeds or Shelled Hemp Seeds
· 2 tbsp Grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan-style cheese/Nutritional Yeast Flakes)
· Fresh Ground Pepper
· Optional: 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
· Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
· Dice the onion and leek, and mince the garlic.
· In a frying pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and sauté the onion, leek and garlic over medium heat until soft and just starting to brown.
· Set aside while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
· If using dried lentils, rinse them well and boil until soft, following the instructions on the pack. This usually takes 20–30 mins. If you have tinned lentils — just drain and rinse.
· Add all of the ingredients (apart from the oil) to a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined, scraping down sides if needed. It should be of a dough-like consistency. If it is too crumbly, add a tsp or two of the drained liquid from the chickpea tin (aquafaba).
· Combine all of the ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl.
· Scoop out a tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls and dip into the coating. Make sure each ball is well covered.
· In a frying pan (feel free to use the same one as you used for the onions and leeks earlier to minimise washing up), heat 1 tsp oil and lightly fry the meatballs over a medium heat.
· Depending on how big your frying pan is, you might have to do this in two or three batches.
· Fry the balls until they are starting to brown on all sides, making sure you shake the frying pan so as not to burn them.
· Once all of the meatballs have evenly browned, transfer them to a parchment lined roasting tray and bake them for 15–20 minutes.
· While the meatballs are in the oven, prepare the spaghetti and tomato sauce (check out my earlier recipe for my Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-tomato-sauce).
· Once the meatballs are nice and crispy, remove them from oven and serve on top of cooked spaghetti and tomato sauce, with some extra parmesan/vegan cheese and fresh black pepper.
Macros for one serving of the meatballs (5 balls)
* This does not include the spaghetti or sauce
Calories — 156
Fat — 2g
Carbohydrates — 25g
Protein — 7g
Fibre — 4g
Iron — 10%