Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

It’s not the taste of spaghetti and meatballs that I miss, it’s more the concept of the dish, the comfort and the familiarity that it offers on a cold night.

I honestly cannot remember ever having spaghetti and meatballs growing up, and if I did, it would have been a heavily herbed Mediterranean version. I vaguely remember some chicken (?) meatballs in soup…

But it’s a kind of dish that you instinctively recognise. Meatballs are meatballs, right?

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Put your pitchforks down, I know that every carnivore out there has their own meatball or patty or rissole recipe that they guard fiercely. The type of mince, the add-ins, the herbs and spices, breading, no breading, panko, eggs, no eggs… All the little differences lead to very different meatballs in both taste and texture.

And it’s the same with veggie balls; there may be more variety in the base ingredients and flavourings that can be used, but all veggie balls are not created equal.

That’s why I like The Meatball Shop’s lentil-based veggie ball recipe – you can drench them in sauce and they will still hold their shape, making them perfect for spaghetti and veggie balls, or for vegetarian polpettini rolls.

Veggie balls usually require more ingredients and time to prepare, but they really are worth the effort.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with the Fiesta Friday #69, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and co-hosted this week by Juju @cookingwithauntjuju and Amanda @The Chunky Chef, so come say hi and check out all the great recipes.

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

  • Servings: makes 2 dozen veggie balls and serves 6
  • Print

Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

Ingredients for the Veggie Balls

  • 2 cups puy lentils
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 220g swiss brown mushrooms (wiped clean and finely chopped)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • ¼ cup walnuts (finely chopped)

Ingredients for the Spaghetti and Sauce

  • 500g thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 350g jar of tomato passata
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  1. Combine the lentils and 6 cups of water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils if needed and set aside to cool.
  2. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
  3. Add the eggs, parmesan, panko, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
  6. Roll the veggie mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs, making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly between your hands. Place the balls evenly in the prepared baking dish, allowing a bit of space between the balls.
  7. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the veggie balls are firm and cooked through. Allow the veggie balls to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the packet directions. Drain and keep warm.
  9. To make the sauce, add the oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and chilli (if using) to a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the garlic and herbs are fragrant.
  10. Add the passata and crushed tomatoes. Stir through the balsamic vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  11. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add the veggie balls. Spoon sauce over the top and cook for about 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.
  12. To serve, divide the pasta among six bowls, spoon over some sauce, add the veggie balls and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve with a crisp, green salad.

Recipe adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow with Lauren Deen.


About Food Daydreaming

I follow new recipes perfectly the first couple of times and then I pull them apart and put them back together my way. My biggest pet peeve is when I follow a recipe to a tee and then it doesn't turn out the way it should... I end up growling in my kitchen and that's just not right ;)

7 responses to “Spaghetti and Veggie Balls

  1. What a great idea to make veggie meatballs. I have all kinds of meatball recipes but not a veggie one.I have some vegetarian relatives coming up next week and I bet they would love them. Thanks for giving me a new recipe to try and sharing with all of us at Fiesta Friday #69 🙂

  2. I love how you mentioned everyone having their favorite meatball recipe, yet it is also the same for veggie balls. And, I love the added creativity in your dish based on the different ingredients you chose to use. Yum! Happy FF, and have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  3. This looks delicious to me! Meatballs of any kind make such a great meal or appetizer.

  4. We love spaghetti and meatballs at our house, but I’ve been thinking of a way to make veggie balls instead. I want to see if I can fool everyone 😉 Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ll have to try it out

  5. How awesome – veggie balls on pasta. This sounds really delish, E. Happy FF! 🙂 xx

  6. Pingback: Vegetarian Polpettini Rolls | Food Daydreaming

  7. looks very tasty, and it’s nice to know there are no mystery lentils in there..:)

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