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Vegan Meatballs and Zucchini Spaghetti

I want to live in a world where Spaghetti and Meatballs is the healthiest dish. And… it can be! These meatless "meatballs" are Vegan, Gluten-Free, and packed with clean plant protein.

vegan meatballs

No offense to the mock meat industry, but I will not be buying artificial "meat" that was synthesized in a lab with ingredients I don't know how to pronounce. Especially when I can so easily make these vegan meatballs at home with simple pantry friendly ingredients and they look and taste so shockingly like Italian meatballs! Hearty, flavorful, "meaty", juicy but firm, basically comfort food at its MAX.

vegan meantballs

You can pair these vegan meatballs with spaghetti for a classic comfort food combo or opt for zucchini noodles for a lighter version! Personally, I love "zoodles" because I get so easily filled up on regular pasta that I wouldn’t be able to eat much of anything else. With zucchini noodles though, I can easily eat a full bowl with as many “meatballs" and sauce as I want and won’t feel sluggish or bloated after at all.

This recipe has been trialed and tweaked many times at our wolf&bunny household and I guarantee it is so easy to follow and basically fail-safe, and you'll get the dreamy texture that is moist, chewy but firm enough that they will proudly hold their shapes even when cooking in pasta sauce for a long time. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 15 oz can pinto beans*
8 oz shiitake mushrooms*
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup rice flour*
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari sauce*
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon cumin
Olive oil to cook
2 cups of pasta sauce

vegan recipe

TO MAKE:

- Preheat oven to 375°F;
- Rinse and dry the pinto beans, transfer to a large mixing bowl;
- In a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil, add the onions and sauté till they're slightly browned and caramelized, add the balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of tamari sauce, and continue to cook till all liquid is absorbed, set aside to cool down;
- Thinly slice the shiitake mushrooms, in the same frying pan, heat another drizzle of olive oil, sauté the garlic till fragrant, then add shiitake mushrooms and the other 1/2 tablespoon of tamari sauce, cook till mushrooms are soft and all liquid is gone, set aside;
- Add pinto beans and onions to a food processor, pulse several times to combine, do not blend, the mixture should be coarsely combined not smooth;
- Transfer the bean and onion mixture to a bowl, add the sautéed mushrooms, rice flour, oregano, thyme, cumin and mix well;
- Drizzle a little olive oil onto your hands, rub evenly, then use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to portion the "meatball" mixture, form into balls with your hands, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, repeat till all mixture is gone;
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, check and flip halfway, the meatballs should be firm and hard on the outside afterward;
- Finally, heat the pasta sauce in a large saucepan till it slowly bubbles, add the meatballs and stir to coat with the sauce, serve with pasta or zoodles!

NOTES:

1. For the beans, you can also use kidney beans or black beans, I personally like pinto beans the most for this recipe;
2. You can sub ground oats for rice flour, or if not gluten-free, you can also use all-purpose flour;
3. Sub soy sauce for tamari sauce if not gluten-free.


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