Spaghetti & Beanballs
Move over spaghetti and meatballs! This delicious vegan alternative to the traditional Italian recipe is a great, healthy meal for the whole family. Of course, if you don't manage to get through them all in one go, then once cooked these balls will last a few days in the fridge, or you can freeze them and keep them as a handy meal for when you need it.
I prefer to cook my 'beanballs' in the oven rather than frying them, because a) it cuts out all the oil that frying introduces, and b) you can just place them all in the oven at once and forget about them until they're ready to serve, rather than stressing over frying them all in batches. However, if you'd prefer to fry them then please go ahead. They are great either way!
Ingredients (makes 18 balls - serves 4):
For the 'beanballs':
1 white onion
1 red pepper
3 large garlic cloves
2, 400g tins cannellini beans
2 cups walnuts
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups (15g) fresh basil
salt & pepper
For the Sauce:
2, 400g tins chopped tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 large handful of fresh basil
1 tsp dried thyme
a splash of white wine vinegar (optional)
salt & pepper
Plus your choice of pasta (spaghetti is the natural option). About 400g if serving 4.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
Start by draining the two tins of beans, rinsing them before transferring them to a mixing bowl. Pat dry with a cloth.
Using a potato masher (or, like me, you can just use your hands), mash the beans until they are mostly smooth.
Finely dice the onion and red pepper and add to the bowl, along with the garlic, crushed with a garlic press.
Place the walnuts into a food processor and wiz until it forms a coarse power. If you do not have access to a food processor, then you can also achieve this by chopping the walnuts finely with a knife.
Add the walnut powder, along with the tomato puree, oregano, parsley, and some salt and pepper to the bean mixture. Using a spoon, thoroughly combine everything together until you reach a mouldable consistency. If the mixture feels too wet, mix in a small amount of flour.
Using your hands, begin forming balls by gently rolling them in your palms. You should end up with about 18 evenly sized 'beanballs'.If baking, place the beanballs onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until they begin to brown and are dry to the touch. You may wish to turn them over half way through for a more even browning. Optional: If frying instead of baking, heat oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the beanballs to the pan and fry them in batches, for about 10 minutes each, rotating regularly and ensuring all sides are brown before removing them from the pan. Place them on a kitchen roll lined plate to help obsorb any excess oil.
Begin boiling a large saucepan of water for the pasta. Once the water begins to boil, add the pasta and cook as per the instructions on the pack.
Meanwhile, begin making the sauce by heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Dice the red onion and add it to the pan, along with the garlic cloves, pressed. Fry together for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Next, add the tomato puree and fry for a further couple of minutes, before adding the tinned tomatoes, dried thyme, basil, salt, pepper, and if using it, a small splash of white wine vinegar (I like the taste, but you may choose to leave it out if you prefer). Mix.
Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. Optional: If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend the sauce a little before serving to remove any chunks (either in a food processor or with a hand blender).
Once everything is ready, evenly divide the pasta between your bowls, and top with the sauce and a few of the beanballs. I like to finish it off with some fresh basil, and if you'd like, a sprinkling of vegan parmesan.