The Best Vegan Meatballs

These vegan meatballs are the perfect comfort food. They’re really easy to make, so delicious, and incredibly healthy! Serve them with spaghetti for a quick and easy dinner. I promise you that you will LOVE them. They’re one of my all-time favorite recipes!

When I think of spaghetti with meatballs, the first thing that comes to my mind is the meatball scene in the Disney’s classic ” Lady and the Tramp” when Tramp takes out his Lady for a romantic dinner.

I used to absolutely love meatballs, so of course I had to make a vegan version of this classic American-Italian dinner. And they turned out soooo good!

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

  • Kidney beans, rolled oats, and ground sunflower seeds give these meatless meatballs an amazing texture. They keep their form and don’t crumble when being baked or cooked. However, do not expect them to have the exact same texture as real meatballs.
  • You can serve the meatballs warm or cold. I like them even better when they’re cold because this way they have a firmer texture.
  • The recipe is very budget-friendly. Especially if you use dried kidney beans and cook them yourself. It’s perfect if you’re eating on a budget! Find out more about cooking beans on the stove or in the Instant Pot.
  • The meatballs are not only super delicious but also incredibly healthy.



You’ll Need:

For the vegan meatballs:

  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 heaped cup sunflower seeds
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the chunky marinara sauce:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14,5 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into small pieces
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the spaghetti:

  • 9 oz whole wheat spaghetti

For the cashew Parmesan:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt


Instructions:


  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Rinse and drain the kidney beans. Put them in a medium bowl and mash them well with a fork or a potato masher.
  3. In a medium pan, heat some oil and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Put the sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse until a fine meal is achieved.
  5. Use your hands to thoroughly mix everything. Then form about 12-14 vegan meatballs. (Please note that I doubled the recipe for the photos, so there are more meatballs).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 °F bake the vegan meatballs for about 15 minutes. Carefully flip them halfway through the baking time.
  7. Add the sauteed onion and garlic to the mashed beans together with the spices, the tomato paste, the soy sauce, the ground sunflower seeds, and the oats. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Alternatively you could also pan-fry them. In a medium pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat and gently roast the bean balls for about 4 minutes until they are golden. You'll achieve the best results with a cast iron pan. However, I would recommend the baking version. Not only is this version oil-free, they meatballs also become more crispier and firmer this way.
  9. Make the marinara sauce: In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and the carrot. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Then deglaze with red wine and allow to evaporate. Add diced tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Before serving add some fresh basil leaves.
  11. Make the cashew Parmesan: Put the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder in a food processor and pulse until a fine meal is achieved.
  12. Serve the spaghetti with the marinara and vegan meatballs and sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.


NOTES:

  • You can either bake or pan-fry these vegan meatballs. However, I would recommend baking them in the oven. This way they become a lot crispier. Besides, the texture is firmer and you don't need any oil.
  • Pan-frying is, however, the quicker version. If you're short on time, you can choose this method. Just be careful when you turn the meatballs. You'll achieve the best results with a cast iron pan.
  • I like these vegan meatballs even better when they're cold. They become a lot firmer when they're cold. I love to bring them to picnics and potlucks!
  • Make sure to sauté the onion and the garlic before you add it to the bean mixture. I've tried the recipe without sauteing and didn't like it because the onions were still crunchy.
  • For a gluten-free version, make sure you're using gluten-free oats and substitute the soy sauce with tamari.