Spaghetti and Meatballs gets a fun vegetarian make-over with plump delicious mushroom and quinoa vegetarian meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.
Sophia Loren once said “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” The same can equally be said of our parents.
It’s Mother’s day, a time to reflect and recognise our mother’s and the role they have had in our lives.
They bring us into this world. They soothe our tears when we cry and are there for us when we need them. And, even when we have disappointed them, we know they will still be there for us, and only a phone call away. They cheer for us in our times of happiness, and support us in our times of need. They, set us on the straight and narrow, teach us right from wrong, good from bad, and, hopefully, don’t judge us too much for the mistakes we’ve made.
I know not everyone is not lucky enough to have a good relationship with their mother, but I’m one of the lucky ones that does. While we live thousands of kilometers apart Mum and I call each other regularly, and have long talks about what is going on in our lives, and especially what is going on in our kitchens.
One of the things I recall Mum making regularly when I was growing up was Spaghetti Bolognese. It was something my Dad and brother loved, and, although I wasn’t officially a vegetarian back then, having never liked the taste of meat, I kind of looked forward to it because I could eat the soft squidgy spaghetti and usually palm off the Bolognese to my brother, when Mum wasn’t looking!
So today I have a vegetarian spaghetti recipe that even die-hard carnivores would have a hard time passing up. I know, because my die hard carnivore, aka my husband Troy, hovered around the kitchen while I was cooking my Spaghetti and Vegetarian “Meatballs” waiting for it to be ready. He even sneakily “quality tested” some before I’d cooked them in sauce!
These vegetarian “meatballs” are essentially my Mushroom and Quinoa Burgers formed into “meatballs” instead of patties. These vegetarian meatballs are then browned in a frying pan before they finish cooking in a warm bath of tomato sauce. If you want more of a Bolognese and vegan version of this recipe, simply leave the eggs out of the base and brown the mixture as you would the meatballs in step 3.
Spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs recipe
- 150 g of quinoa
- 1 cups ½ of water
- tsp ½ of fine sea salt
- 1 brown onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 200 g button mushrooms finely chopped
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped
- 1 tbs parsley finely chopped
- 120 g wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 brown onion finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 1 tbs thyme leaves roughly chopped
- 1 tbs rosemary leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 ounce x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes 14
- 400 g spaghetti 14 oz
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated parmesan to serve optional
- Rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Place in a saucepan with the water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 12 to 20 minutes. I've found Australian Organic Quinoa cooks particularly quickly (12 minutes), others take up to 20 minutes or even longer. Check after 12 minutes to see if the quinoa is tender and you can see the little quinoa curlicues. Set aside to cool.
- Heat a large frying pan over a medium low heat and 2 tsp olive oil and add the onions cook until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl. Increase the heat to medium high and add another 2 tsp of olive oil. When the pan has come to heat add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Place in the same bowl as the onions and leave to cool.
- Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl along with the onions and mushrooms. Add the breadcrumbs and parsley and mix to combine. Test and adjust seasonings with sea salt and pepper as necessary. Add the beat egg and mix until well combined.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Using a dessert spoon as a measure, form the mixture into vegetarian "meatballs". If the mixture feels too loose, and is difficult to form into balls, add more breadcrumbs and refrigerate for another 30 minutes before forming into "meatballs".
- Add 2 tbs of olive oil to the pan and fry the "meatballs", on all sides, carefully turning them with a spatula, in batches until golden. Place on a plate lined with paper towel.
- Wipe out the frying pan and place it over a medium low heat and add the remaining oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, carrot, thyme and rosemary and cook until the onion turns golden and soft. Increase the heat to medium high and add the red wine. Cook until the red wine has almost evaporated before adding the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and adjust as necessary. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low and add the "meatballs" and cover.
- When the meatballs go into the pan start the spaghetti. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and season well with salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Drain the spaghetti and top with the "meatballs" and sauce and serve immediately.
I used red quinoa here which helps the vegetarian "meatballs" look more like regular meatballs, but if you only have white quinoa on hand that's perfectly fine.
This post was sponsored by Australian Mushroom Growers Association. As always, all opinions are my own.