Spaghetti & beanballs recipe

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We usually don’t eat spaghetti, opting instead for more interestingly shaped pastas, but we absolutely have to have spaghetti with meatball-type comfort meals or the world just feels off kilter. These “meatballs” can be baked or panfried, depending on your mood. Begin your sauce right before preparing the beanballs because you will need some of it for this recipe.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1½ cups cooked green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained (a 15-ounce can is fine)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for panfrying
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup plain vegan bread crumbs
  • 1 recipe (5 cups) Marinara Sauce, any variation
  • ½ pound spaghetti
How to Make It
    Prepare the Beanball Mixture
  1. We’re going to use the food processor fit with a metal S blade for most of the work here, so it should come together pretty quickly. First, toss in the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Now, add the onion and pulse until minced. You don’t want any big pieces, or else they will ruin the texture of the meatball.
  2. With a plastic spatula, transfer the onion mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside. It’s okay if some remnants are left; just try to get most of it.
  3. Now, in the food processor, pulse the lentils, nutritional yeast, wheat gluten, soy sauce, tomato paste, oil, and water. Once everything gets mixed well, puree until totally smooth, scraping down the sides to make sure you get everything.
  4. Combine this mixture with the onion mixture and add the herbs and bread crumbs. Mix really well with your hands for about 2 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Roll the meatballs into golf ball–size balls. This goes very fast if you keep your hands clean and dry. You should get around sixteen balls. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and pour in a thin layer of olive oil. You don’t want to crowd the pan, so panfry in two batches. You should be able to tilt the pan and have all the meatballs roll around and get coated in oil, cooking until browned (no more than 5 minutes).
  7. Transfer the first batch to a baking pan, cook the second batch, and transfer those to the baking pan as well. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while to toss the balls so that they cook evenly.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, for the spaghetti. Boil the pasta according to the package directions, starting right about now, for perfect timing.
  9. When the beanballs are browned on all sides, add ⅓ cup of marinara sauce to them, and toss to coat. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  10. To Assemble
  11. Drain your spaghetti and put it back in the pot. Pour your remaining marinara sauce over the pasta and mix. Use a pasta spoon to transfer the spaghetti to plates, then top with three or four beanballs.

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