Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe makes use of pantry ingredients that are easy to keep on hand: canned beans and tomatoes, rolled oats, spaghetti and dried herbs. When processing the beans, be sure to keep them coarse, to give them a meaty texture. A cookie scoop makes it easy to portion the meatballs in a uniform size. Two-tablespoon-sized meatballs work well, but any size works, though keep all of them uniform in size to bake evenly. Ground flaxseed is found in with cereals (around the oatmeal) in the supermarket. From Robin Asbell.

• 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

• 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drain and save the liquid

• 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed (see Note)

• 1/2 c. rolled oats

• 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 tsp. dried oregano

• 1 tsp. dried basil

• 1 tsp. smoked paprika

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

• 1 (15-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

• 1/4 c. red wine

• 2 tbsp. tomato paste

• 1 tsp. thyme, dried

• 1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped

• 1 lb. whole-wheat spaghetti

• Parmesan (or vegan parm)


To make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put on a pot of water to boil for cooking the spaghetti. Spread 1 tablespoon oil on a sheet pan with a rim.

Drain the liquids from the chickpeas into a measuring cup. You should have about 3/4 c. to 1 cup. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium to keep a good simmer going. Cook for about 10 minutes, until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup. Pour the liquid into the measuring cup and let cool to room temperature. When cooled, stir in the ground flaxseeds and let stand to absorb.

Place the oats in the food processor bowl and process until finely chopped, not powdered. Scrape into a large bowl.

Place the drained chickpeas and black beans in the food processor bowl and pulse to chop finely (do not purée, as you will want some texture). Scrape out into the large bowl. Add the flax mixture, oregano, basil, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt and stir gently to mix well.

Scoop 2 tablespoon-sized portions and roll them into balls. Place each on the prepared sheet pan, not touching. Roll the balls to lightly coat with oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the balls form a crust. Take out and keep warm. Makes about 32 balls.

To make the sauce: In a medium pot, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and place the pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir for at least 5 minutes, lowering the heat to medium when the onions start to sizzle. Cook, stirring often, for as long as you have time. Add the garlic and stir, and when fragrant, add the crushed and diced tomatoes and stir.

In a cup, stir the wine and tomato paste, then stir into the pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and thyme and stir, bringing to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley just before serving.

To serve: Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, about 9 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce, and gently fold in the meatballs. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 920 Fat 23 g Sodium 2,160 mg

Carbohydrates 156 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 15 g

Protein 36 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 33 g

Exchanges per serving: 4 vegetable, 7 starch, 2 carb, 1 ½ fat exch.