Tuesday, 9 March 2021

THE BEST MEAT FREE MEATBALL SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO SAUCE!


I think the last time I ate red meat I was around 12 years old and I have really not missed it much ever since. 

I really can't get my head around the idea of eating another beings flesh and the texture of things like steak and bacon makes me feel squeezy just thinking about it.

Which means I am one of those non-meat eaters (though I am big seafood lover and with that long term pescatarian who would struggle to be a full veggie ) that really has not craved or missed meat products.

 Indeed I have always been a little dubious about "fake" meat products like quorn or foturkey. I mean, of course I can see the appeal, especially for vegetarians that have chosen to give up meat out of mainly ethical reasons and miss having a bacon sarnie, but I always wonder why emulate something that is a bit wrong to start with when you can do so many amazing and tasty things with veg and pulses and grains. 

I for one cook about 85% of the time vegetarian, without substitute products, and was more than intrigued to see what kind of meat free balls I could create in a veggie adaptation of those iconic Italian meat ball spaghetti with tomato sauce and after a bit of research I stumbled across a rather outstanding little recipe that makes for some delicious and surprisingly "meaty" balls! 

The secret to their deliciousness? A super fragrant mix of blended black beans and oats which are then mixed with miso paste, sautéed onions, breadcrumbs and, the real start of the show here, finely chopped dried porcini mushroom, hydrated back to full goodness. 

It may sound like a little bit of an odd mix of flavours but once they are formed into balls, fried in the pan to gain a crispy shell and then tossed with a super fresh homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti, they taste pretty damn amazing! 

Like the sort of amazing that would even impress a committed meat eater and made me all kinds of happy, converting a former childhood favourite dish of mine into something that works in my meatless diet! Plus if you leave the parmesan out as final topping the dish is also fully vegan! 

This is one to add to the recipe repertoire, easy to make and a real joy to eat! 

SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms (I got mine at Waitrose)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 x 400g can black beans , drained and rinsed
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp brown miso
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 500g spaghetti

METHOD
  • Tip the dried porcini into a bowl and cover with boiling water. 
  • Leave to soak for 20 mins. 
  • Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of olive oil a frying pan. 
  • Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10 mins or until softened and translucent. 
  • Add the garlic and paprika and cook for 1 min.
  • Tip the black beans and oats into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky, textured mixture. 
  • Tip the beans into a mixing bowl and using your hands mix through the miso, breadcrumbs and cooked onion mix. 
  • Strain and finely chop the porcini mushrooms and add those.
  • Season and roll into balls and chill in the fridge while you make the sauce.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan
  • Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10 mins or until softened and translucent. 
  • Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 min. 
  • Stir through the tomatoes and sugar and season to taste. 
  • Simmer uncovered for 20 mins. 
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil for the meatballs in a large frying pan over a medium heat. 
  • Add the balls and fry until evenly brown. 
  • Add the cooked meatballs and spaghetti to the pan of sauce and toss everything to coat, then scatter with the basil. 

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