As a vegan, I’ve never really craved meat. In the beginning I think I missed the texture of chicken but otherwise I was simply too excited about all the new things I was incorporating into my diet that I didn’t even think about it. Having said that, I do find a lot of pleasure in re-creating classic meat dishes that will surprise non-vegans (and vegans!) and maybe even convert one or two in the process! I saw a post over at The Kitchen Billets-Doux for a pasta recipe with a sausage and tomato sauce. You may ask why I even look at non-vegan recipes and it’s simply because I love a good challenge! This dish looked lovely and I told Marieke that I would attempt to veganise it!
So I created a meatball dish, but as the original recipe called for sausage, I wanted to produce a more ‘pork style’ texture and flavour. I’m actually really surprised at how amazing they turned out!
Makes: 35 meatballs
- 2 cups textured vegetable/soy protein (TVP)
- 1 good quality vegetable stock cube (I use Kallo Organic)
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 3/4 cup rolled oats (I used the porridge kind)
- 3 tablespoons polenta/cornmeal
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 8 tablespoons flour (I used wholemeal)
- 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, chilli flakes and smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon of dried italian herbs (I use a mix of basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used dark)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tins high quality crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- A large bunch fresh basil
- Olive oil for cooking and lining baking sheet and pasta of choice
First make your flax egg by combining 2 tablespoons of water with your 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Set aside and leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, place the TVP and the stock cube and cover with very hot water. Stir so the stock dissolves and leave for 2 minutes. Now combine in a large bowl the oats, cornmeal, breadcrumbs and flour.
In a frying pan over medium to high heat, place the tvp and any remaining liquid. To this you will add the garlic and onion powder, the chili flakes, dried herbs, soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 – 8 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to cool a little. Once cooled down, add this to the oat and flour mix with the flax egg and stir well to combine.
The texture will be thick and sticky but still quite moist. Now the fun part! Form into little balls. I made mine quite small as you can see (I have small hands!) and this made about 35, but you can play around a little with the size. I think the smaller the better because then they are easily incorporated into the pasta dish.
Place on a well-oiled baking sheet and brush each with a little oil. Bake in pre-heated oven at 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 for about 15 minutes or until browned.
They taste so much like pork it’s crazy! Just look at how nice they are! 🙂
For the sauce, saute the onion in some olive oil over medium heat until softened. Then add in the garlic and some chilli flakes and dried herbs. After a minute pour in both cans of tomato and turn up the heat a little. Fill each empty can half with water and pour into pan. Let this sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. Add in the fresh basil and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Cook your pasta, and whilst it is cooking, gently add in your meatballs to the sauce. Turn the heat off and just coat the balls in sauce. Once the pasta is done, serve up and sprinkle with fresh basil and maybe even your favourite vegan cheese! Enjoy 🙂