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 ingredients.
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 vegan and keeping taste a top priority.
Starting with the most traditional Italian-American 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 spaghetti and meatballs.
The heart of this post – the FOOD!
We put our own spin on Italian meatballs to make them vegan. This recipe uses lentils for the bulk/protein and mushrooms for the savory flavor. For binding, we used a ground flax + water mixture – which is an awesome substitute for egg.
You can fry these vegan Italian meatballs in olive oil for a crispier result, or you can bake them if you want to go the healthier route. Either way, the taste will bring you right back to meatball bliss.
Lastly, please come back often for updates and plenty more vegan and vegetarian Italian recipes!
Oh, and if you make these vegan Italian meatballs and love them, please comment below or tag us on social media @pastabased!
Vegan Meatballs, Italian-style, made with savory mushrooms and bulky lentils. Baked or fried until crispy on the outside. A classic Italian plant-based dinner.
- 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.