Going meatless and missing meatballs? Well here’s an easy fix that’s fun and fabulous–wheatballs! Tender, flavorful and satisfying these beauties stand in perfectly for a much loved culinary classic. Easy enough to make for a special weeknight meal, but fancy enough to serve when hosting a casual dinner party, this dish will become a staple in your house.
Makes 3 to 4 servings (12 to 14 wheatballs)
• 1 1/3 cups lightly packed, fresh, soft whole-grain bread crumbs (about 3 to 4 large slices—must be fresh!) (see notes below)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 cups chopped mushrooms
• 1/2 cup diced onion
• 3/4 pound organic spaghetti (see notes below)
• 3 cups prepared vegan marinara sauce or your own homemade sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a medium baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.
2. Put the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Put the walnuts in a blender, and pulse to process into coarse crumbs. Add the walnuts to the bread crumbs and stir gently to incorporate.
3. Put the mushrooms and onion in a blender, and process to a chunky purée. Add the mushroom mixture to the walnut–bread crumb mixture and stir to incorporate.
4. Spoon out about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture and roll it into a ball. Gently squeeze it together, to make sure it is compact and will hold together while baking. Continue in this way with the remaining mushroom mixture. Arrange the wheatballs on the lined baking pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Gently rotate each wheatball and bake for 12 to 25 minutes more, or until they are firm, crisp and golden.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain the spaghetti well.
6. Meanwhile, pour the marinara sauce in a medium sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Gently add the wheatballs to the sauce, one at a time, cover, and simmer for 3 to 7 minutes.
7. To serve, put one-quarter of the spaghetti into each of four pasta bowls, and top with three or four wheatballs. Ladle marinara sauce over the top and serve immediately.
To make fresh bread crumbs: Put 3 to 4 slices of whole-grain bread in a blender and process into coarse crumbs.
Gluten-free option: You may use your favorite gluten-free pasta in this recipe. The wheatballs make a sensational base for a terrific hero-style sandwich too!
Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.
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