Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spaghetti and Beanballs with Onion & Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Let's start this off by saying that I don't like red sauce or meatballs (when I used to eat meat). So what compelled me to choose this recipe that combines spaghetti with red sauce AND beanballs (a vegetarian version of meatballs)? Well I was curious. Maybe I'd like the beanballs and find a yummy new protein source to add to dishes. Maybe I'd finally find a red sauce that I could eat and love (without adding cream or lots of cheese). Well I found neither. But I do want to share these recipes with you because I think there are many of you out there that would love to try out these beanballs (which had lots of flavour - maybe bordering on too much even) and my boyfriend was in love with the sauce, so maybe you'd like it too.

The sauce is a simple red sauce, which I added 2 roasted garlic bulbs to (one garlic bulb ended up with much softer cloves I could mash up and mix more easily into the sauce while the other bulb was a bit more firm so you got a mix of roasted garlic flavour in the sauce combined with bites of yummy roasted garlic), and sauteed onions (which I wanted to be caramelized but I'm always reluctant to add too much butter or oil so they weren't as deliciously caramelized as they could have been). The sauce was a bit thick, and probably would've benefited from the addition of a good amount of red wine, and a sprinkling of fresh cut herbs (basil and oregano, my favourite) once served.

As for the beanballs, the texture was not what falafel-like as I'd expected (mmm falafel) but more soft like a mix between a falafel and a dough ball. You could double the batch and freeze up whatever you don't eat for a quick and healthy snack, or to add to whatever else you're making.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons
Santa Fe Pasta Salad

Spaghetti and Beanballs with Onion & Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Veganomicon

The first thing you want to do is start roasting the garlic bulbs, as this takes at least 45 minutes. Then I'd sautee the onions, start the sauce. Add the onions and garlic to the sauce when they're done. Meanwhile, start on the beanballs (while the sauce and onions are cooking away). Once the beanballs are in the oven, put on a large pot of water to boil for the spaghetti.

Serves 3-4

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti

For the beanballs
20 oz can (about 3 cups) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp steak sauce
1 tsbp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest (optional, because I couldn't taste it)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

For the roasted garlic & onion tomato sauce
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic bulbs, roasted*
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp oil

Preheat the oven to 375F for the beanballs.

Make the onion & roasted garlic tomato sauce
Make sure you've roasted your garlic! Now you have to squeeze out all the cloves. It's your choice to add the cloves whole to the sauce, or mash them up and stir them in (or do a bit of both as I did).

Take out a frying pan (for sauteeing the onions) and a saucepan (for the sauce) and put both on medium-low heat. Put the oil in the frying pan for the onions, and add the onions. Then start on the sauce. Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic bulbs. Cover, and raise the heat a bit to bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are soft and/or caramelized, add them to the sauce. Don't worry about the sauce sitting for longer than 15 minutes.

Make the beanballs
Mash the kidney beans in a mixing bowl until no whole beans are left. You don't want them to be completely smooth, you should still be able to recognize that they are kidney beans. Add the soy sauce, steak sauce, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, bread crumbs, wheat gluten, and herbs, and use a fork to mix everything together. Use your hands to knead the mixture for about a minute, until everything is really well combined and firm.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, a silpat, or oil. Roll the bean mixture into walnut-size balls. (My note: The book says you should get 12 to 15, I got at least 20 and even then I thought they might be a bit big.) Place the balls on the baking sheet as you go.

Put a large pot of water on the stove and start boiling the water for the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti, so it should be done by about the time the beanballs come out of the oven.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. (My note: If you want you can fry them, but for the sake of being healthy, baking is a much better option.)

Put everything together
Once the spaghetti is drained, toss it with the tomato sauce. Either add the beanballs now and mix it all together, or you can dish out the spaghetti and then place some beanballs on top.

*To roast garlic bulbs, slice off the top of the garlic bulb to expose most of the cloves. Cover in tinfoil and cook in a 375F oven for 45-55 minutes, or until soft.


kickpleat said...

i've heard about those bean balls for ages. i've got the cookbook myself but haven't made anything from it yet. this looks super good!

Gigi said...

It all looks good and delicious! The apple pie? Delicious! Biscotti? Yummy! Spaghetti and Beanballs? Freaking creative and fantastic!

Ricki said...

I've had bean burgers, though never bean balls. . .your photos are so gorgeous, they always make me want to try whatever it is you've cooked! These look great.

VeggieGirl said...

Oooh, the bean balls are like falafel?? Sounds perfect to me!! :0D And oh man, as a garlic-fanatic, that sauce sounds INSANELY good - yum!!

Anonymous said...

My only problem is that I used to love spaghetti and meatballs so I think not having a real meatball would be too disappointing. Otherwise some spaghetti in sauce looks so good.

Parker said...

Those are awesome, never heard of that, so unique and a great veggie meal.

Erin said...

This looks great! I've never had beanballs before, but they look really good. I do eat meat, but I actually don't really like it in spaghetti, so this is really nice to see!

LisaRene said...

Your photography is excellent!

I too have tried the bean balls and thought they were good but I totally changed the flavoring using pomegranate chipotle sauce in place of the soy and steak sauce.

The roasted garlic and onion sauce sounds delicious!

FYI - you can caramelize onions using very little oil, the key is to cook them over very low heat (simmer setting) for about 45 minutes or so stirring them about every 10 minutes. The result is a very sweet and tender onion. Here is my method -

2 large sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter (for flavor but not necessary)
¼ tsp sugar (helps bring out the sweetness)
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt
coarse ground black pepper

Heat a frying pan over low heat/simmer (lowest setting) and add 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter. Then add the onions. Let them sit for a couple of minutes (so they don't loose their liquid) then gently toss them until all are coated in butter and oil. Then let them sit, turning every 7-10 minutes. After they turned transparent (about 20 min) add 1/4 tsp white sugar.

After the onions turned completely brown and caramelized (watch it they can burn at the end 30-40 minutes in), add 1 minced garlic clove (1/2 clove for each onion used) and sautéed for just a minute. Sprinkled on a little sea salt and pepper and that is all! Delicious!

Note: You add the salt at the end so the onions don't lose their liquid.

Johanna said...

a big bowlful for me please! these look delicious - and another vital wheat gluten recipe - I have a bag of the stuff to use up!

Grace said...

for some reason, the word beanballs makes me giggle. they sound good though, and could definitely stand alone without any sauce. nice job!

Tina said...

Yum! Beanballs sound amazing! :)

Holler said...

This sounds really good to me. I think I would love it. I am a bit stuck on the steak sauce and the wheat gluten. Could you describe them for me? I really want to make this!

Deborah said...

I like meatballs and red sauce, so I bet I would love this!

Lore said...

Where is my fooooooork? Sorry about that but I instantly got hungry ;)

Jaime said...

wow, beanballs?! i never knew such a thing existed :)

ovenhaven said...

I've never tried beanballs before, but if they're not gonna taste anything like meatballs, I'll give them a try. I hate meatballs! :P Oh but I do love my pasta with tomato sauce, so thank you for sharing!

Rachel Ducker said...

MMMmmmm meatballs! They look very tasty! My bf loves meat he says i should cook more so i may well try these!

Duckey x

Meg said...

So glad that I found this! I have heard about the beanballs and I really want to try them. They look delicious!

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