The Daring Cooks – Herbed Vegan ‘Meat’balls and Spaghetti


The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.


Of course, my first challenge was to research vegan ‘meatballs’ – something I had never eaten, let alone cooked myself before. I also have never eaten a real meat meatball. New territory.


In synchronous manner however, the results of the Virtual Vegan Potluck  were announced after the Daring Cooks challenge had been announced and before I had decided anything to make. I was reminded of the wonderful Minted Moroccan Meatballs + Aromatic Barley by main dish winner, Ashlee of The Little Foxes which I had eagerly bookmarked during the Potluck. I was inspired to celebrate the winning main recipe with an adaptation of the recipe fit for a classic ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ dish featuring a tomato background and punchy fresh herbs that pair beautifully with an onion and garlic infused tomato sauce.


Ingredients: Makes 28 ‘Meat’balls

  • 12 Chestnut or cremini mushrooms (about 250g), cleaned
  • 1 cube of vegan bouillon (or equivalent powder)
  • 1/2 drained can (120g) kidney beans (or other beans or chickpeas)
  • 1tsp harissa
  • 2tsp tomato puree
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup/200g raw bulgur wheat, ground in to a medium meal
  • 2/3 cup/100g vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/3 cup/30g ground almonds (or other ground nuts)
  • 2 tbsp/15g ground flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 small-medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke or a few drops woodsmoke extract
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 200’C/400’F degrees and line one large or two smaller baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a high-speed blender, blitz mushrooms, veggie bouillon cube (or powder), beans, harissa, tomato puree and water until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, vital wheat gluten, ground almonds, ground flax seeds, herbs and finely diced onion.
  4. Slowly add remaining meatball ingredients (soy sauce, salt, smoke flavour, lemon juice and pepper) and gradually stir in the 2 cups of blended mushroom liquid until a sticky dough has formed.
  5. Work the dough by-hand or with a spatula to further activate and develop the vital wheat gluten (you should see strands forming) and to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  6. Roll the dough into 28 balls (I found it easiest to weigh the dough for uniformity) and place evenly spaced on prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until the balls are firm to the touch, browned, and lightly crispy on the outside.


  • To serve as spaghetti and meatballs: Prepare your favourite tomato based pasta sauce and simmer the balls in the sauce to soften them slightly and allow them to absorb the flavours. Serve with spaghetti and a scattering of fresh parsley.


  • Also fabulous in salads, in pitta with hummus and salad or with rice or other grains. I also loved a couple dropped in a bowl of minestrone soup!


Nutritional Benefits

Low in saturated fat
Very low in cholesterol
High in dietary fiber
High in manganese
Very high in vitamin B6
This entry was posted in Daring Cooks, Egg-free, Mains, Pasta, Snacks, vegan, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to The Daring Cooks – Herbed Vegan ‘Meat’balls and Spaghetti

  1. Jane Doe says:

    I love the photos….

  2. These look delicious and I’m so honored that you adapted my recipe! Don’t they just have the scrummiest texture? Now, I wanna come over and have a big plate of pasta! 🙂

    • Poppy says:

      You’d be more than welcome! 🙂
      Thank you for the inspiration and congrats on winning the VVP main dish!
      The texture is awesome, I was really impressed and my fussy non vegan boyfriend even liked them!! 🙂

  3. Wow, those meatballs look like real ‘meatballs’ HEE HEE!! Maybe I could pass them off with my non Vegan hubby? Awesome recipe Poppy 😉

    • Poppy says:

      Thanks Angela – I thought they looked pretty realistic too! Definitely try them with your husband – my non vegan partner knew they weren’t meat but loved the complex flavours and the texture! 🙂

  4. charanyaram says:

    Yum 🙂 Btw, your profile pic looks really good 🙂

  5. Very interesting way to make “Vegan Meatballs” 🙂

  6. Shelley C says:

    Your vegan “meat”balls look absolutely fantastic! I love the different flavors that went into them, and I bet they had a great texture, as well. I am super honored to have been a part of your first “meat”ball experience. Thanks so much for cooking with us this month!

  7. All I can say is Wow. Spag and meatballs was my favorite meal growing up (pre-vegan). My family would go crazy over this!!!

  8. Violet says:

    Looking at your beautiful photos is making me hungry!! I love how you adapted the meatballs into vegan ones. Thanks for your awesome recipe! 🙂

  9. These look scrumptious! A must try!

  10. laurasmess says:

    These look amazing Poppy!! Far out, I’d have thought they were real ‘meat’ meatballs on first glance 🙂 Wonderful photography. Can’t wait to cook these for my vegan friends xx

    • Poppy says:

      Thanks Lovely Laura! I think they look very realistic too! I hope they are enjoyed by your vegan friends – how lucky they are to have a friend like you to cook for them 🙂

  11. aishazdha says:

    Love it!! I will give a try to your recipe 🙂

  12. Oh, this looks and sounds just delicious! I love vegetarian meat balls of any kind and did some rose & cocoa kofta for a barbecue the other day which. I love your idea to combine the balls with spaghetti – it looks like true soul food.

  13. gardenjon says:

    Awesome, I’m adding this to my meal plan for the week! I don’t need it, but my extended family would, any recommendations (or links) for a gluten-free option?

  14. these look so freaking good Poppy! Definitely adding this recipe to my list. Thanks!

  15. Yum! This looks so good! The pictures are making me hungry!

  16. beingmeyear says:

    They look far better than ‘real’ meatballs, will give these a try, thanks!

  17. Renee says:

    These sound and look amazing!

  18. These look great, I’m definitely going to give these a go

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  20. andy says:

    Those are wonderful looking “meat”ball!

  21. Sophie33 says:

    I made tasty dinner this midday & my parents were visiting & we made it all together! They eat a lot of vegetarien food & they & I loved these meatballs a lot…… !!!! MMMMMM,..”It was! Fabulous even!… Tasty! Tasty! Tasty! Xxx

    • Poppy says:

      Sounds like a wonderful day Sophie, cooking all together, that’s lovely and what cooking is all about for me – sharing and enjoying together! Glad you liked them! Poppy xx

  22. natarunmore says:

    Thanks Poppy 🙂 I will try these! Others in my family want to eat less meat and this is a great way to change up an old favorite, and I don’t think they’ll mind at all. Thanks again.

    • Poppy says:

      Hi Natalie, that’s great, I hope your family enjoy the recipe and you can play with the herbs and spices to suit your families’ taste buds! Poppy 🙂

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