Well, most of us are firmly in the holiday season now, and temperatures are really cooling down. Or nosediving, if you live in Edmonton. Something about this time of year makes me run for comfort food, which can at times be tough if you’re sharing a meal with a friend who is vegetarian, but even more so if they’re vegan.
This is a meal I made for my friend Kirsten and I, only about 5 months after she became a vegan. Yeah, it took me that long to percolate on how to share one of our favorite things (pasta) together while eliminating the meat, cheese, butter… you know, all of the things that I love!
As I talk about this recipe, keep in mind- these are obviously not “meat” balls. The texture is similar to that of a falafel, but the flavor profile is Italian meatball. Because these are baked, they get a nice crust that holds up to a marinara sauce so they remain little balls of goodness.
In terms of what is affordable, this is pretty much the ideal meal! Some tomato sauce and onion, 2 cans of chickpeas, some breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs and dried pasta!
Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves four for $6.88, or $1.72 per serving
2 cans of chickpeas (drain, but reserve 3 tablespoons of the liquid as an egg replacement to bind your balls)- $1.76
1/2 white onion- $0.60
3 cloves of garlic- $0.20
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs- $0.90
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning- ~$0.20
200 grams of spaghetti- $0.20
The first step of making these not-meat balls is grating your onion and garlic cloves and sauteeing them in olive oil until they’re nice and soft with your Italian seasoning. While you have those on the stove, set your oven to preheat at 375 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with aluminium foil.
Next, open two cans of chickpeas and take out three tablespoons of the liquid and put in a mixing bowl. Drain the chickpeas and you can either a. put them in a food processor if you’re rich, or b. mash mash mash them in the mixing bowl until they’re pretty smooth. Then, add in your cooked onions and garlic and your breadcrumbs and mix until you can form balls- if it’s too dry, just add more olive oil.
Roll your balls fairly small and pop in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip the meatballs and bake ten minutes more.
For your marinara, you have a couple of options. Option a is that you buy six roma tomatoes, a can of strained tomatoes, an onion, and about three cloves of garlic. You roast the onion, tomatoes and garlic together in the oven with Italian herbs and a bit of olive oil, then blenderize them once they’re cooked and mix with a jar of strained tomatoes to make a tomato sauce. It’s super flavorful and delicious.
Or you could open a tin of tomato sauce and warm it on the stove… More affordable and you can get great tomato sauces at the store. This recipe is priced out to use a store bought sauce ($3.00).
At the end of the day, I boil up some spaghetti noodles and toss with half of my sauce- the other half I reserve to top my pasta with on the plate. I like to plate this meal as saucy noodles, no-meat meatballs, and then additional sauce on top.
Do you have a meal that’s affordable and vegan friendly that you turn to during the cold winter months? I’d love to hear about it!