Hands up who loves spaghetti and meatballs! That’s just about everyone, right? This is one of my favorite easy vegan dinners, a vegan meatball recipe filled with a delicious cheese sauce.
Even if they’re not your personal fave, kids seem to adore this easy Italian meal and this vegan meatball recipe is simple enough that little ones can get stuck in while cooking and help make their own dinner. Win win, right?
This recipe reminds me of lazy weekend meals with my family- I’ll often make these meatballs along with some vegan garlic bread and my 3 kids love being in charge of stuffing each one with my thick easy vegan cheese sauce!
It gets messy when the kids are in the kitchen, but it’s totally worth it. All you need to do is fry up some onions, mushrooms and garlic and pop them in the food processor along with the other ingredients.
Then make up a batch of my melty cheese sauce (we love the smoked Gouda flavor), scoop the meatball mix into bowl-shapes, and stuff a spoonful of cheesey goodness into each one. Then cover with a ‘lid’ made from the meatball mixture and reshape into a ball.
Finally pop them into the oven and wait half an hour for the meatballs to bake while you whip up an insanely easy vegan marinara sauce, and cook some spaghetti.
Then toss the drained pasta in the sauce, scoop on a heap of meatballs, grab a fork and dig in. Bellisimo!
All of the ingredients are easy to find, standard store cupboard bits and pieces. Most are what you’d put into standard meatballs, with red beans and panko breadcrumbs used for that meaty, stick-together texture.
Then we use traditional Italian seasonings such as oregano and basil, and some nutritional yeast and a little soy sauce for an extra cheesey and savoury kick. The cheese sauce is also made with nutritional yeast and has that authentic yellow color so kids might not even know it’s plant based!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 3-4 garlic clove, minced (or 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar)
- Diced 8 ounces button mushrooms
- One 15-ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ cup vegan panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if desired)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or use more bread crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons liquid aminos (use coconut aminos to be soy-free)
- 1½ teaspoons dried basil
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 batch Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce, Melty Variation (see my recipe)
- 12 ounces spaghetti or other pasta (gluten free if desired), optional
- 4 cups Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara Sauce Recipe (or store-bought vegan marinara sauce)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are browned and the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a food processor along with the beans and parsley and pulse until combined and the mixture is mostly blended, but still with a bit of texture.
2. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl along with the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined. It should stick together when squeezed. If it’s still too wet, add more bread crumbs.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
4. Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Press a little hole in the middle and shape the mixture into a little bowl shape. Scoop ½ to ¾ teaspoon of the vegan cheese sauce into the bowl shape. Take another tablespoon of the meatball mixture and slightly flatten it into a “dome.” Place the dome on top of the meatball bowl, then use your fingers to seal the edges and shape it again into a ball. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with rest of the remaining mixture.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
6. While the meatballs are in the oven, cook the pasta (if desired): Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions until al dente (with a little bite), and then drain and set to one side.
7. Heat the marinara sauce while the meatballs are baking.
8. Serve the meatballs on their own or in marinara sauce on spaghetti. You can keep leftover meatballs and sauce in an container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 655 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 1149mg Carbohydrates: 119g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 21g Sugar: 29g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 33g