These Vegan Italian Meatballs are simple to make, plant-based, and gluten free. They are also incredibly delicious and made using the same traditional Italian techniques my mother taught me growing up!
Every bite is
Growing up Italian means food = love. Cooking together and having a meal together are sacred rituals in an Italian household. For me to walk in one day and tell my family I would no longer be eating meat or dairy was definitely a shock, especially to my mother who is famous for her lasagnas, cacciatore and of course…her spaghetti & meatballs.
That being said, they always respected my decision and currently are eating much more plant-based dishes themselves. So over the holidays this year I decided to experiment with incorporating mom’s techniques in to a healthier, meat-free version. These are power-packed, nutritionally-dense, and so satisfying.
It is true that we crave seasoning, not meat itself. So I knew that with the combination of fresh and dry Italian herbs, garlic powder, sautéed onion and red wine I could bring these meatballs to life! And boy, are they UNREAL.
Pair these babies with your favorite spaghetti & well-seasoned gravy (red sauce) and you’re good to go!
These are perfect to prep over the weekend for a week full of yummy dinners or for a big Sunday meal.
Being vegan does not mean you have to give up the flavors you grew up with! Applying them with a new cooking vocabulary that does not include processed foods + animal products means we can eat and healthier and live well. Who doesn’t want that?
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Leave a comment, or take a picture and tag it #busybeet on Instagram. I’d love to see what you cook up. Enjoy!
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 15 oz can brown lentils rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
- hymalian salt
- black pepper
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs dried oregano
- 1 tbs dried parsley
- 1-2 tbs dried Italian seasoning
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh rosemary + sage minced
- ¼ cup Italian red wine (I used Montepulciano d'Abruzzo)
- 1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flaxseed meal + 2 tbs water mixed)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Add pecans and almonds to a food processor or high powered blender and process until bread crumb texture. Transfer to a bowl and with a fork or whisk mix in salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, Italian seasoning, + oats. *My mother and I always eyeball this and taste the mixture to test the flavors - use your judgement to add more seasoning.*
- In a non-stick skillet, bring diced onion up on medium heat with about 2 tbs of olive oil, rosemary, sage, salt, + pepper until onions become fragrant and translucent.
- Transfer onions to nut crumb mixture.
- Add lentils, black beans, 2 tbs olive oil, flax egg, + wine to food processor or blender. Blend only until combined and beans are broken down. Do not over process. Slowly add crumb mixture to bean mixture and combine with a fork or hands. *My mother taught me to use my hands to knead the bread crumbs in to the meat which incorporates them evenly. Go ahead and dive in! That's true Italian cooking.*
- The texture should not be wet, but should be able to roll and stick together in to even balls. Using the palm of your hand, roll balls even + firmly.
- Using the same skillet used to cook onions, add more olive oil and fry balls evenly on all sides over medium heat until golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 12 minutes. Turn balls over and bake another 5 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite spaghetti + sauce.