Welcome to Pasta-based! This blog has been a growing idea in our heads for a while now. Since the beginning of our relationship, five years ago, we loved cooking and creating recipes together.
A couple weeks into our relationship, Matt cooked a homemade Penne alla Vodka dish for Valentine’s Day. Shortly after that, I taught Matt how to make my mom’s sauce and traditional Italian comfort food.
Spending so much time cooking together, I think it’s safe to say that we fell in love in the kitchen.
We transitioned to plant-based eating over a year ago. At first, it wasn’t easy because food was such a big part of our relationship. Italian food was also a comforting memory from growing up and eating with family. So we set out on a mission to re-create the recipes we love, but only using plant-based foods.
I grew up in an Italian-American family, in a neighborhood where there was a pizzeria on every corner. A lot of my cooking has always been focused around Italian cuisine. That’s why this blog will have mostly traditional Italian recipes, all plant-based and keeping taste a top priority.
Starting with the most traditional Italian recipe – spaghetti and meatballs. In my house, sauce and meatballs were standard for Sunday family dinners. Before switching to a plant-based diet, I don’t think I’ve gone a week in my life without eating this dish.
We put our own spin on Italian meatballs to make them plant-based. This recipe uses lentils for the bulk and mushrooms for the savory flavor. For binding, we used a ground flax + water mixture – which is an awesome substitute for egg.
The recipe comes together so easily and is perfect for a traditional Italian plant-based Sunday dinner. Don’t forget to top with vegan parm and red pepper flakes! Buon appetito!
100% Plant-based Italian Meatballs made with lentils and mushrooms. Option to bake or lightly fry in oil - no animals harmed in the making.
- 1 cup cooked brown/green lentils
- 1 tablespoon olive oil *
- 1 cup yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup cremini mushrooms chopped
- 1 flax egg **
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs vegan
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper (each)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (for frying, skip if baking)
To cook dry lentils (skip this step if using canned lentils): Cook 1/2 cup (54 g) dry lentils on stovetop, using 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. About 15-20 minutes. Drain if needed and measure out 1 cup (192 g) cooked lentils for the recipe.
*Make a flax egg by mixing together 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 2.5 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
Meanwhile, chop yellow onion, garlic and cremini mushrooms. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, add chopped veggies to pan and sauté until soft. About 5 minutes.
Once vegetables are soft and lentils are cooked, add to food processor along with breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, flax egg, and salt + pepper. Pulse ingredients until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down sides as needed. You'll want the mixture to be well-combined, very mushy and sticky.
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
Roll each ball between your hands to form golf-ball sized balls. Place evenly spaced on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes. Rotate each ball and reshape if needed every 10 minutes. (The longer you leave them in the oven, the crispier the outside will become).
If frying, heat 1/4 cup (54 g) olive oil on medium-heat in a large skillet. Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized balls and add to hot oil - be careful because it can splash. Carefully turn balls as they start to brown on each side.
As each ball gets browned, place them on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb some excess oil.
Serve warm or freeze for later.***
- *If you plan to bake the balls and you don't want to use olive oil, you can substitute the oil for a few tablespoons of vegetable broth or water instead.
- ***This recipe is SO perfect to make ahead and freeze! Bake or fry first, then freeze in tupperware for another time. Reheat in oven at 350°F (177°C) until warm (about 15-20 minutes), the outside will be slightly more crispy but this makes me LOVE them even more!
- Serve over pasta with tomato sauce.
- This recipe makes about 9 golf ball-sized balls.
Nutrition information per ball:
Calories 121 Total Fat 7.9g Saturated Fat 1.1g Sodium 28mg Potassium 18mg Total Carb 9.8g Fiber 1.7g Sugars 2.8g Protein 3.4g