Many of us love spaghetti drenched in red sauce, preferably with meatballs.
Yet even in the meatless kitchen, we can cook up a mean variation. This recipe for spaghetti with faux meatballs is simple and straightforward.
These nifty nuggets are held together with two standards in the plant-based pantry. First, you’ll save the liquid from the canned chickpeas, and boil it briefly to concentrate it a little. The liquid you once would pour down the drain is now called “aquafaba” and is used to replace eggs in many plant-based dishes.
In this recipe, you’ll mix it with another standby, ground flaxseeds. These, when mixed with water, have served as a binder for eggless baking for years. Mixing the aquafaba and flax together provides a thickener that will jell when baked.
Of course, beans are permanently on the all-star list for healthful cookery. In these meatballs, coarsely puréed chickpeas and black beans deliver the protein you expect from a meatball. For a meaty effect, don’t make them too smooth as you’ll want some texture. Finely chopped oats also add texture and give the meatballs a little structure. For a flavor boost, smoked paprika makes the beans seem meatier.
For a streamlined process, I kept the spaghetti sauce simple. Good olive oil, onions and garlic are the base to sweeten and flavor the canned tomatoes. Red wine and thyme balance it all out. If you wanted to add a shredded carrot or a diced zucchini, it would be even better. Fresh parsley adds a fresh, peppery kick at the end, but if you want to opt for fresh basil, it would be delicious.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan” and “Plant-Based Meats.” Find her at robinasbell.com.