Spaghetti and “Meatballs”

Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meatballs"

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? I’ll be going deeper into my own in a few days, but I wanted to get back in the swing of recipes first. This time last year my husband and I decided to give up meat once and for all. It wasn’t so much a resolution as it was a good time to just start fresh making choices that made us feel good.

We had already cut back drastically on our meat consumption and noticed we felt considerably better physically when we left meat off our plates and out of our mouths. I was reluctant to give up chicken (hello), but finally went for it. I guess you could say we’re pescatarians since we do still eat eggs, fish, and shellfish.

Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meatballs"

Initially I was at a loss as to what we would eat. I had an arsenal of delicious vegetarian food, but could we really eat healthfully and deliciously day after day without basing meals around meat?

One thing that has been kind of fun is taking classic meat dishes and making them vegetarian. I like this recipe for spaghetti and “meatballs” because it is super light and healthy. Sometimes meat substitutes can still have a meaty flavor, which might not be what you’re going for. These balls are made with white beans and roasted red peppers which keeps them tasting light and fresh.

Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meatballs"

Spaghetti and “Meatballs”
  • 1½ cans (15 ounces each) cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or a Silpat.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans, roasted red peppers, and onions. Pulse until chopped but not smoothly pureed.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined.
  4. Scoop out a rounded tablespoon of the bean mixture and form it into a ball by rolling it between the palms of your hands. Place the "meatballs" on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly. Repeat with the remaining bean mixture.
  5. Bake the balls until they are firm to the touch and have become lightly golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add the "meatballs" and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions. Serve cooked spaghetti topped with sauce, "meatballs," and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Slightly adapted from Cookin' Canuck


  1. says

    My boyfriend and I have decided to eat far less meat this year. I’ve always been pretty much a pescatarian (a burger slip maybe once or twice a year), but I can see he’s already struggling and it’s been a mere THREE DAYS. Thank you for the inspiration, this will certainly be on the grocery list this weekend…

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