I have always loved a good bolognese sauce, especially the one my mum made growing up.
When I became a vegetarian, I would just have a regular tomato sauce and add cheese to serve.
When I became a vegan though, I wanted to become a bit more creative. First, I used vegetable tomato sauces, then I added nutritional yeast on top, tried making a sauce with lentils, tofu and textured soy, made vegan pestos… I honestly think I’ve tried it all, except for meatballs.
Growing up in Germany, spaghetti with meatballs wasn’t a classic dish, and I first saw the recipe in Mama’s Peas cookbook ‘Peas and Thank You’. Sadly, Sarah shut the blog down a in 2013, but I still go there quite often to look for recipe inspiration. Her blog was definitely one of my very favourites and I’ve never made a recipe that didn’t turn out well.
I had the cookbook for approximately 5 years (I just checked and yes, I do actually have the book for 5 years!) and have never made the meatballs. Why? I don’t know.
Last week I stumbled across a recipe for aubergine meatballs (which I can no longer find or I would link to it), and then thought I should really combine the two.
Because I can’t ever follow a recipe, I made a lot of modifications and luckily, the meatballs turned out perfect.
1 horribly lit photo from the process to show what consistency you want. Note that my meatballs really were quite big – I had 2 for dinner, as you can see in the picture above.
Vegan Meatballs with lentils and aubergine
Recipe for about 12 big meatballs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 whole sun dried tomatoes or 8 halves
- 1 can (400g) lentils, drained – you can also cook your own
- 3 tablespoons of olives, chopped
- 1/2 carrot, grated
- 1 big sprig of rosemary
- a small handful of fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon of good olive or coconut oil
- about half a handful of oats
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- chilli to taste (I used about 3 teaspoons, but then I love hot food)
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 of a normal sized aubergine, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon of herb de provence
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion together with a sprinkle of salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Now, add the aubergine and tomatoes. Stir for about 1 minute, add the balsamic and cook it down.
Add all the spices and herbs, stir well and cook for about 4 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Now add the lentils, stir and taste to see if any additional seasoning is necessary.
Let the mixture cool for a little bit, then add everything to a blender (I used my Vitamin, but you don’t need an expensive one for this recipe) – you can also use a handheld blender!- together with the oats. Pulse it a few times, until the texture is still a little chunky. Add the grated carrot and stir to combine.
Form meatballs with your hands (I found it worked best with wet hands) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius. Depending on size, you want to bake them for about 15-30 minutes. Mine were really big, so they took 30 minutes. It looks like they’ll fall apart after about 10 minutes, but I promise they’ll hold their shape.
Serve over spaghetti with tomato sauce and sprinkle with additional fresh basil and nutritional yeast if desired.
I used wholewheat spaghetti and made a quick tomato sauce with onion, carrot, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and lots of herbs and spices.