Autumn, Winter, Main, Pasta

Spaghetti and Meatless Balls

This is the perfect family meal, I don't know many people of any age that don't like a good 'meatball' and tomato sauce. Even carnivores will find them 'meaty' and satisfying. This recipe has been a labour of love to get right, and I have finally perfected it. The addition of porcini mushrooms elevated these from tasty, to damn delicious. The consistency is also perfect.



Meatless balls

  • 2tbs groundnut oil/olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 225g chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped or sliced
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs, I use a leftover sourdough as it's quite a dry bread.
  • 1 250g packed of microwave brown basmati and quinoa (I used tilda) you could alternatively boil your own and just use rice.
  • ¼ plain flour, you could use wholemeal or gluten free
  • 2tbs fresh chopped basil
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • ¼- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, this is optional

Tomato sauce

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves minced
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup/brown sugar
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • A good grind of black pepper
  • 1tbs extra virgin Olive oil
  • 1 tbs Groundnut/olive oil

To serve

  • 450g spaghetti of your choice, I used linguine. You can use and shape and swap in for gluten free.
  • Freshly chopped herbs, a mix of or just one of the following. Basil, parsley, oregano.
  • Vegan Parmesan


  1. Firstly, prepare your porcini mushrooms and by placing in a bowl with boiling water, enough to cover the mushrooms and set aside for later.
  2. Next start in your tomato sauce. Heat a large pan on a medium setting and add the groundnut or other neutral oil. Once heated add your onions and cooked until the onions are translucent and lightly golden. Add in the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add your chopped tomatoes, salt pepper and tomato ketchup, bring to the boil and then reduce to a low temperature. I always add a little tomato ketchup or sugar when I am using tinned tomatoes, this helps take away their tininess. Leave the sauce on a low heat to bubble away and reduce, stirring occasionally whilst you start on the meatballs.
  3. Heat a frying pan on a medium setting and add your oil, once the oil has heated up add your onions and mushrooms, cook them until the onions are translucent and lightly golden and the mushrooms are soft and browned. Add in the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer this mix to a food processor.
  4. Drain your porcini mushrooms through a sieve lined with kitchen towel reserving the liquid and adding it to your tomato sauce. Roughly chop the porcini and add to the food processor. discard the kitchen towel and its gritty remains.
  5. Add all the remaining meatball ingredients to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together. Form into balls, I like mine about 2inch, small golf balls.
  6. Heat a large pan of water and add the pasta, cook following the packets instructions, but aim for al dente.
  7. Whilst the pasta is cooking, re heat the frying pan used to sautee the onions and mushrooms on a medium to high heat and add a little more oil. Fry the meatless balls in batches until browned and crisp on the outside and drain on kitchen towels. If they are cooked before the pasta is ready, place on a baking tray and in the oven on a low heat to keep warm.
  8. Now taste your tomato sauce for seasoning and stir through the chopped fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and place back to the pan along with the tomato sauce and stir through.
  9. Divide your pasta between 4-6 plates and top with your meatless balls and freshly chopped herbs. Adding parmesan style cheese to taste.

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