I first tried going vegetarian in the fall of 2007. I was married for just over a year, my mom was going through cancer treatments, and I was embarking on a nutritional journey that was largely uncharted territory for me. No one in my life was a vegetarian, and most people were actually more like polar opposites from that. Meat was the center of the plate, vegetables the afterthought. So diving in as a new vegetarian was scary ground for me all the time, but it was especially difficult that first Thanksgiving. Tim and I were set to spend the holiday at his parent’s house. I was anxious about our trip, not knowing how I’d be able to hold up my vegetarianism when I wasn’t in control of the food available.
Thanksgiving day turned out to be fairly easy and painless. I did what most vegetarians probably do at a non-vegetarian holiday meal: I ate the sides. We all know there isn’t normally a shortage of sides at a Thanksgiving feast and this was no exception. I didn’t go hungry.
The next challenge came when we were going to travel to visit some of Tim’s extended family. We were going for a meal,and again, the worrying started. I’ll never forget how welcomed and grateful I felt when I learned Tim’s Aunt Lauria planned a meatless meal. Spaghetti and meatless balls were on the menu. Still new to meatless cooking, I was amazed at how great these little guys were. Better yet, Tim gobbled them up like they were the real thing.
A vegetarian meal my husband likes? Sign me up!
Aunt Lauria was gracious enough to share her recipe with me and I have been making this meal ever since. This is one of my g0-to meals when I have nothing planned because I almost always have these ingredients on hand and it is a quick-and-easy recipe. You can make homemade tomato sauce to go with it, of course, but when I’m making this I’m usually breaking open a jar of Muir Glen because I don’t have time to even think about homemade sauce.
This is the sauce I usually have on hand in case I need it in a pinch. If you’re using jarred sauce, this dinner comes together quickly. There’s minimal prep and you can even get the kitchen cleaned while the balls are baking in the oven. 🙂Print
Spaghetti and Meatless Balls
A delicious pasta dish for meat free Monday
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: serves 4 - 6 1x
- Category: main meal
- Cuisine: American
- 16 ounces dry multi-grain spaghetti (Pictured is Barilla Plus)
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce of your choice
for the meatless balls
- 1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs (I used my food processor to make homemade)
- 1/2 heaping cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 small onion
- 1 garlic clove
- splash of milk
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend (you can mix your own if you don’t have one)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You could also use aluminum foil)
- In a large bowl, moisten your breadcrumbs with a splash of milk.
- Add your walnuts, onion, and garlic to a food processor and blend until you have a wet mixture. Add this mixture to the breadcrumbs, then add the cheese, egg, and seasonings. Mix until well-blended.
- Form into small balls and place on your baking sheet. You will have 12 balls. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping with a spatula half way through the cooking time.
- While the balls are baking, prepare the pasta according to the package directions and heat your sauce. Serve pasta with sauce and meatless balls and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, if desired.
Adapted, just a little, from Aunt Lauria’s recipe
- Serving Size: 1 of 6 servings
- Calories: 397
- Sugar: 4.5g
- Sodium: 416mg
- Fat: 5.3g
- Carbohydrates: 54g
- Protein: 18.3g
Keywords: vegetarian meatballs
Thank you again for this recipe, Aunt Lauria. Tim and I love it and now Meghan loves it, too.