Photography by Meghan Rodgers


Cozy Spaghetti and Vegan Bean-Balls

by Meghan Rodgers


December 16, 2020

Spaghetti and meatballs. Winter comfort food at its best. 

But how do you update a classic Italian meat-lovers dish for the modern vegan diet? 

Spaghetti and bean-balls! 

This vegan recipe is so easy to make, and the bean balls are incredibly delicious. It’s a MUCH healthier alternative to red meat. Serve them on top of spaghetti all covered with (vegan) cheese, or stuff them in a sandwich roll for a better-for-you bean-ball sub. Once you slather them with sauce, you’ll never miss the meat.

What I love about these vegan meatballs is that they won’t crumble like a lot of plant-based meat substitutes will. The texture isn’t exactly like real meatballs, but they are firm and pair well with tender pasta. 

Pro tip: Freeze cooked vegan meatballs in a single layer for a breezy Meatless Monday menu option. Or take a few out at a time when you want a quick and tasty, homemade meal. 

Slather some bread with vegan butter and a sprinkling of garlic powder. Serve with a side salad and your favorite wine.


8 ounces mushrooms (your choice or mushroom)

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (lentils work just as well)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs (plus more for texture)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cups diced onion

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

3-4 garlic cloves, halved

1 can diced tomatoes (28 ounce)

1 can tomato puree (28 ounce)

2 tbsp tomato paste

Vegan Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

Parsley for garnish (optional)



To make the meatballs

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat.

  2. Add garlic and mushrooms to a food processor and finely chop (careful not to grind).

  3. Add the rice and beans and pulse until a textured “dough” forms. If “dough” seems too smooth, add another tablespoon of breadcrumbs to help the consistency.

  4. Add in soy sauce, oregano, basil and bread crumbs. Use a spoon to mix well by hand.

  5. Scoop “dough” out with a spoon and begin to form meatballs by hand. Place rolled meatballs on prepared baking sheet.

  6. Bake meatballs in oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Let cool for 5-8 minutes before remove from sheet so meatballs retain their shape.

To make the sauce

  1. Add olive oil to medium saucepan and heat to low-medium. Add onion and cook until tender. Add about a teaspoon of salt and cook for another minute or until onion is translucent.

  2. Add tomato paste and cook until paste changes color. 

  3. Add two cans of tomato and half the garlic cloves. Let simmer until mixture begins to bubble. Turn down heat and let sit on warm until ready to eat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. 

To make pasta

  1. Fill a large pot with water and boil. Add enough salt so it tastes like the sea.

  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

  3. When pasta is al dente, drain (leaving just a bit of water to smooth the sauce). Top with a healthy serving of sauce and several delicious vegan meatballs. Sprinkle with vegan Parmesan and fresh parsley if desired. 


Meghan Rodgers is a media professional and writer covering travel, food and the environment. Find her writing on the food blog EverybodyCraves and her adventures on Instagram.