Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs
Ok folks, this is a good one! Sometimes you just need some comfort food and nothing says comfort to me more than pasta and something stuffed with cheese!
These vegetarian mushroom meatballs are a healthy meat-free alternative to the classic Italian meal giving you a whole range of extra healthy vitamins and nutrients. The rich, dense flavour of onions, garlic, mushrooms and herbs gives you all the savoury notes you need to offset the satisfyingly tangy pasta.
The pairing of vegetables and oats in these meatballs produces an easy to work with mixture with a meaty texture and a good hit of protein.
The recipe produces quite a few meatballs. You could always refrigerate or freeze them for another day if you have too many.
Simple Italian Ingredients
This recipe is super delicious and makes the most of ingredients most of us will have in our homes. Pasta in a slightly spicy tomato sauce topped with rich, savoury mushroom balls stuffed with melty mozzarella cheese. Top all this with some fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and some extra olive oil and it’s a feast to please veggies and meat eaters alike.
Once you’ve mastered the oats and veg combo used in these vegetarian mushroom meatballs you can use it to make all sorts of other things like Gousto’s beetroot and oat burgers.
This rich tomato sauce really makes the most of this super healthy veg combining 3 sources in one – tomato puree, roasted baby plum and tinned tomatoes. All of these are going to add a healthy dose of vitamin A, C and fibre to this meal as well as lycopene thought to be good for UV protection and skin ageing as well as cancer prevention.
Oh My Oats
Oats are a super healthy wholegrain and the perfect addition to these tasty meatballs adding body and flavour. They are high in protein, calcium and essential fatty acids and contain high doses of beta-glucan which is a soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol. Got for the larger jumbo oats if you can as these have a lower GI than smaller types.
Mushrooms are one of the rare non-animal sources of selenium and vitamin D2 which many of us are lacking. They are also rich in fibre and contain two specific types found in no other vegetables – chitin and lentinan – good for immune function and blood pressure. Leave your mushrooms out on the window ledge for a few hours before you eat them and you can really boost the levels of vitamin D! The larger mushrooms tend to have higher concentrations of the good stuff so choose those varieties if you can.
Even the mushroom haters among us can give these a try – the texture of the meatballs is completely different to whole mushrooms thanks to the oats 🙂
Simply switch the mozzarella in these vegetarian mushroom meatballs for a sun dried tomato or sweet chilli pepper and you have a delicious vegan version. You’re still getting a tasty surprise in each meatball with lots of healthy fats to help absorption of those important nutrients.
This recipe makes 4 large portions so you may find yourself with some leftovers. These can be easily kept in the fridge and reheated ( a possible bonus as some studies suggests this process actually lowers the amount of absorbable carbohydrates in pasta).
Alternatively, mix the leftover pasta with a couple of whisked eggs and chop the meatballs, stirring them through. Lay the mixture in a shallow baking dish and cover with your choice of topping – fresh greens, cheese or breadcrumbs for example. Bake this in the oven for about 20 minutes and you’ll get a crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, super satisfying spaghetti cake!
I’ve also made the meatballs and tomato sauce since and served them up with cheesy polenta, lemony basil pesto and asparagus – a nice change and just as delicious.
This dish would also go well with Broccoli With Sundried Tomatoes, Garlic & Pine Nuts.
Or for more Italian inspiration try this Gnocchi With Wild Garlic Pesto, Tomatoes & Kale!
Let me know if you give this one a try! 🙂 #preggieveggie
- Mushroom Meatballs
- Tbsp. light olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 400g mushrooms of your choice (I used chestnut & portobello)
- 120g rolled oats
- 70g pitted black olives
- 60g mozzarella pearls (or normal mozzarella broken into small pieces)
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp onion granules
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Tbsp. light olive oil
- 325g baby plum tomatoes
- 400g spaghetti (wholewheat best for nutrition)
- 2 tbsp. tomato puree
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes (800g altogether)
- 2 tsp. sugar (optional)
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- Roasted pine nuts
- Chopped basil
- Chilli oil
- Add the tomatoes to a roasting tin with the unpeeled garlic. Once done remove from the oven and set aside.
- Drizzle them with oil, season and cook at 180C for about 15 minutes or until softened and started to brown
- Add the oil to a pan on a medium heat and soften the chopped onion with the celery salt
- Chop the mushrooms roughly and add to the pan
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions (usually around 8 minutes in boiling salted water)
- Once cooked drain and keep for later. Save the pasta water!
- Once the mushroom and onion is softened add them to a food processor with the olives, oats, the peeled roasted garlic (from the tomatoes) and dried herbs/powders
- Blitz into a stuffing like mixture - add some of the pasta water if it's too dry (it wants to be the consistency of stuffing)
- Line a baking tray with lightly oiled greaseproof paper or foil
- Roll the mixture into small balls placing a mozzarella pearl inside each one
- Place the meatballs on the tray and cook at 180 for about 15 minutes or until golden (keep an eye and remove if the cheese starts to escape!)
- Meanwhile make the tomato sauce - add the tomato puree to a pan and heat
- Next add the roasted tomatoes and tinned tomatoes
- Simmer gently adding the sugar, vinegar and chilli flakes towards the end. Taste and season
- Once the balls are ready, add the spaghetti to the sauce and add some of the pasta water to loosen if needed
- Serve with the balls on top and garnish with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and a little extra olive oil - chilli oil if you like it spicy!
* The water from cooked pasta contains starch and is a good addition to the meatballs and pasta sauce for this reason