I was in the mood for an Italian-inspired meal so I thought I would go with something classic – spaghetti and meatballs (sans the meat of course) immediately came to mind.
I’m a big fan of pre-cooked soy-based crumble…I’ve tried everything from Gardein’s® meatless ground crumble to President’s Choice® meatless ground round and I always come back to Yves Veggie Cuisine® Ground Round. Whether it’s baked, sautéed – even toasted – I love its versatility as the base ingredient for everything from tacos to loaded jacket potatoes.
Last time I created a plant-based meatball was for our Italian Wedding Soup. This recipe used textured vegetable protein (TVP) as the base ingredient rather than soy-based crumble. In that recipe I also used enveloped the balls in a Panko-parmesan coating to help them retain their shape when placed into the soup. For my ‘perfect’ meatless meatball I was determined to use soy-based crumble as my main ingredient and go back-to-basics with a more traditional meatball sans (without) any coating. In the end I actually used TVP in its original form (dehydrated) – along with breadcrumbs and savoury parmesan cheese – to give the meatballs a crunchy texture and savoury dimension. A small amount of aquafaba worked wonders as a binding agent when rolling the mixture into balls. While I considered baking the meatballs, since I generally don’t pan-fry all that often I opted to go this route in order to achieve a more authentic, crispy texture to the meatballs. Be sure to read my recommendation (notes below) on using “ball bits” as a topping for this dish as well 😊.
The spaghetti sauce in this dish is a slight variation of the classic tomato sauce featured in our Vegan Calzones. Here I’ve added a medley of fresh tomatoes to prepared tomato sauce (strained tomatoes from a jar) to add more sweetness, and I’ve used more savoury parmesan cheese for a richer taste to the sauce. As my daughter would say this spaghetti sauce is “easy peasy” to make and complements the meatless meatballs so well. The end result is a wonderful Italian-inspired dish that has convinced me any meat-based dish can be veganized – and elevated — without the use of any animal-based ingredients 😉.
- 1/Prepare 1 batch of savoury parmesan cheese
- 2/Prepare 1 batch of soy meatballs (recipe below)
- 3/Prepare spaghetti sauce (recipe below)
- 4/Cook spaghetti as directed
Ingredients: Meatless Meatballs
- 1 onion, halved (85g)
- Olive oil (10g)
- Pinch of garlic powder
- Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
- 1 pkg Yves Veggie Cuisine® Ground Original [12 oz/340g) (or alternative soy-based crumble)
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped (150g)
- 2 celery stalks (75g)
- 3 Tbsp breadcrumbs
- 3 Tbsp parmesan (reserve remaining for Spaghetti Sauce and topping)
- 1/4 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- 2 tsp aquafaba
- Olive oil (for pan frying)
Instructions: Meatless Meatballs
- 1/Add onion to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl to collect the minced garlic at the base of the bowl.
- 2/Add olive oil, garlic powder, salt and soy-based crumble to the TM bowl. Sauté 3 min/120C/Speed 1. Transfer sautéed “ground round” mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- 3/Add carrots and celery to the TM bowl. Chop 12 sec/Speed 4.5. Add to mixing bowl containing sautéed ground round mixture; gently fold in vegetables.
- 4/Add breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, TVP and aquafaba to mixing bowl containing sautéed ground round and vegetables. Gently mix to combine, and then roll into small sized balls. Tip: Refrigerate prepared balls for 1 hour (if possible) – this will help the balls keep their shape when pan frying.
- 5/Heat a skillet to medium heat and drizzle with olive oil (a scant amount, not too much). Pan fry the soy balls until crispy and golden on all sides (approx. 10 minutes) – they are fairly delicate so handle with care! Transfer the cooked soy balls to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
Important: If the soy balls should disintegrate/break during frying don’t throw away those bits! Keep them in the pan and continue to fry them until the crispen up. These ball bits make for a great topping (along with parmesan cheese)
Note: The soy balls can be prepared ahead of time and reheated in the oven for immediate use. Reheat at 350F for 10 minutes.
Ingredients: Spaghetti Sauce
- 3 cups tomato sauce/strained tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp vegetable bouillon
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- Pinch of dried basil
- Tomatoes, halved (165g) (I used a medley of Campari, grape and cabernet)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (recipe above)
Instructions: Spaghetti Sauce
- 1/Add all ingredients to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 10 sec/Speed 6 (this will break down the tomatoes and release the juices)
- 2/Cook 5 min/90C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade). Your sauce is now ready.
Plate cooked spaghetti noodles. Top with prepared spaghetti sauce and meatless meatballs. Sprinkle reserved parmesan cheese and ball bits( if you’ve saved these!) Serve immediately.
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance, however it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. mutli-function processor, immersion blender etc) or using a more traditional stovetop method.