When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie…that’s amore! Craving things like spaghetti and meatballs and all those delicious foods you vowed to give up for New Year’s? Although I admit that giving up my lifelong love affair with flour based pastas wasn’t easy, finding a replacement in veggie pasta has really helped quell cravings. This year we decided to try creating our own meatballs out of textured vegetable protein, or TVP to make our veggie pastas a bit more filling. TVP is a great alternative to ground beef, and is easy on the wallet. If you are trying to save a bit of money this year, but not concerned with going vegetarian, try adding TVP to your ground beef. It will stretch the quantity and you will be surprised at how little TVP costs. We fed these “meatballs” to some meat eaters, and they were carnivore approved!
One thing we like about this recipe is that first of all, it looks beautiful! We find that especially when you are trying to eat healthy, it is helpful if what you are eating is visually appetizing! Secondly, it gives us a chance to spend some time together cooking in the kitchen! While this recipe isn’t especially difficult to make, it does require a little more prep as the meatballs and pasta have to be made and cooked separately. We simply plan to make recipes like this on days that we both have off, and we use the time to catch up, have a glass of wine, and get in a little quality bonding time! It is also great to have something visually appealing and colourful when you are entertaining. And lastly, it is honestly delicious! Yumm!
3 Tbsp olive oil, split
1 cup diced onions
2 cups cremini or white button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup TVP, dehydrated
1 cup water, boiling
1 egg or 1 Tbsp flax meal and 3 Tbsp water as a vegan egg replacement
2 large carrots, spiralized*
3 medium zucchini, spiralized*
1/2 to 1 tsp assorted spices (to taste)
1 large jar/can pasta sauce
*We got the opportunity to use our new spiralizer with this recipe! But if you don’t own or have access to one, you can use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of the carrot and zucchini to get the same noodle-like effect.
In a medium frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil on medium heat and add onions. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add garlic and mushrooms, cooking for another 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Set onion-mushroom mixture aside in a medium mixing bowl. In the same frying pan on medium heat, add dehydrated TVP and boiling water. Once the TVP is rehydrated and the rest of the water has cooked off, add a splash of oil and whatever spices you wish according to the desired spice profile! We used 1 tsp each of onion salt and garlic powder, and a 1/2 tsp each of parsley, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook until TVP is lightly browned. Add TVP and egg to onion-mushroom mixture and mix well. You can now either form meatballs with your hands or using a rounded tablespoon measure. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 350 °F for 25 minutes.
While meatballs are baking, heat 2 Tbsps of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and add carrot and zucchini (we also added a dash of oregano and garlic powder for flavour). Sautee until desired consistency in attained. We usually cook until the vegetables are a bit past al dente, but not so soft that they lose the pasta shape.
Serve veggie pasta on medium sized plates, top with meatballs and sauce. Enjoy!