Spaghetti with Hearty Vegan Meatballs

Recently I was browsing food blogs (by the way, try Foodbuzz if you want to find new food blogs to enjoy) and came upon an interesting recipe at Garlic and Sea Salt. It was for vegan meatballs, which seems counterintuitive, but they were made with 2 of my favorite hearty, healthy ingredients (walnuts and mushrooms) so I was intrigued.

I made them with whole wheat spaghetti and a tomato sauce, which was the perfect combination. The meatballs have a meaty and hearty taste and held up really well. The texture even crumbled like a regular meatball. While they won’t pass for actual meat, this is a great alternative for vegetarians or omnivores that want a healthier option to meat.


Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Walnut Mushroom “Meat”balls

Adapted from Garlic and Sea Salt

Makes 2-3 servings


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C red onion, chopped
  • 3 C crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C toasted walnuts
  • 2 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T each dried basil, parsley, and oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 15-oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 t dried basil
  • 2 t dried parsley
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Plus, around 8 oz. (about 1/2 a package) of whole wheat spaghetti.

To make meatballs:

Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a nonstick baking mat.

Over medium heat, place olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until softened (about 5 minutes), then add mushrooms and cook until softened (about 3 minutes) and finally add garlic and cook 1 more minute until fragrant. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then place in food processor along with walnuts, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, herbs, salt and pepper. Process until mixture is smooth and add more breadcrumbs if too sticky.

Shape mixture into 16 balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until meatballs start to brown.

To make tomato sauce:

In the meantime, prepare the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or medium saucepan. Add onion and cook until softened, then add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Lightly crush tomatoes with a wooden spoon and bring sauce to a simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce simmers, bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti as directed on package. Drain water and add pasta to sauce. Plate and add meatballs. Serve immediately.

5 Comments on Spaghetti with Hearty Vegan Meatballs

  1. sensiblecooking
    February 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm (11 years ago)

    If I would have seen the recipe I would have just passed but you convinced me to try it. And I do love walnut and shrimp.

  2. Belinda @zomppa
    February 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm (11 years ago)

    Need to pick up some mushrooms tomorrow to make these meatballs!

  3. Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul
    February 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm (11 years ago)

    I love walnut meat balls. I made stuffed shells with walnut meatball filling for Valentine’s day, but used tofu for the mixture. I look forward to trying your recipe!

  4. Annie
    April 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm (10 years ago)

    Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe–I tried it this week and it was delicious! I modified a couple of things to fit in with the diet I’m doing (no olive oil, whole wheat Panko, etc). Was a little skeptical about mushrooms/onions/walnuts but it turned out great! Thanks again.


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