Last week I was wondering what new recipe I would create on the weekend. I scanned my Pinterest boards, cookbooks, and though long and hard. Then I got an idea. A healthy twist on a traditional Italian comfort food. I know, I stepped away for the pumpkin this week and decided to go a little crazy, haha! When most people think of Italian food they think of heavy carb/gluten pasta dishes, cheese, bread, and all those lovely tomatoes. Well if you thought that, then I would be really out of luck. But Italian food is all about simplicity and ingredients right form the source. Italy is actually one of the most gluten-free friendly countries to travel to. And vegan options are abound as well. But here at home I went the completely clean and whole direction with a completely plant-based, gluten-free, and vegan dish.
I have an Italian family on one side and I can always remember eating pasta and meatballs with beautiful tomato sauce. But I also remember the pain and sickness I would experience afterward on the way home from my grandparents when I didn’t know I had Celiac. I also haven’t eaten any type pf pasta (gluten-free or not) in over two years now. During a time when I struggled with my relationship with food I would have specific dinners on specific days of the week. Gluten-Free brown rice pasta was always on Fridays. I would make a huge bowl (like I would fill this massive bowl with uncooked pasta and then dump all of that in the pot to cook) and just top it with sauce and eat. I guess it was like a “binge” food for me, since it was one of the only grain carbs I would eat all week besides my cereal in the morning. I always felt so sick afterwards for eating such a massive portion (plus the acidic sauce!). And then I would go to the gym and workout, ugh, I am nauseous just thinking about it! When I was finally able to better my relationship with food, decided to stay away from pasta. I just can’t picture eating it anymore, no desire what so ever to eat it again. I like my proteins, fats and healthier carbs for dinner anyway now. I have learned to fuel my body properly and not gorge in a weekly pasta binge. So I have not eaten “spaghetti and meatballs” in quite a few years. But last weekend that changed…well kinda. It was perfect, even though I did sacrifice myself and made a tomato sauce, but I am a fighter!
Vegan and Gluten-Free “Spaghetti and Meatballs”
Ingredients: (serves 2 large portions or 3 smaller portion)
For the “Meatballs”:
+ 15oz Can of Cannellini Beans (salt-free, rinsed, and drained)
+ 2 TB Ground Flax Seed
+ 4 Medium White Mushrooms
+ 1 TB Dried Parsley
+ 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
+ 1/2 TB Dried Oregano
+ 2 Tsp Dried Crushed Rosemary
+ 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
+ 1 Tsp Onion Powder
+ 1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
For the Tomato Sauce:
+ 15oz Can of Salt-Free Plain Tomato Sauce
+ 1 Tsp Onion Powder
+ 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
+ 1 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil
+ 1 Tsp Dried Marjoram
+ 1 TB Dried Parsley (plus more for presentation)
+ 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper (or more, to taste)
+ 1 Tsp Crushed Dried Rosemary
+ 1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
For the “Spaghetti”:
+ 2 small/medium Spaghetti Squash
+ In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and give them a toss. Then add to a food processor and blend the mix. You want to leave it lumpy so there is texture to the meatballs. I have a really small processor so I had to do mine in small batches, and then I finished it off with my hands making sure the mixture was completely combined.
+ Then liberally grease a foiled baking sheet with olive oil. Time to make the balls! Just take about 2 TB of the mixture and roll it into a ball using your hands. Place them on the baking sheet and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
+ For the Sauce just combine all the ingredients in a sauce pot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Super simple!
+ For the Squash, poke a slit in the squash and microwave (one at a time) for about 7-8 minutes. Then slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and pull the squash strings off the sides using a fork.
+ When everything is done, simple plate your “Spaghetti”, then the “meatballs”, and top with sauce. Perfect, clean, delicious! (I wished I had some nutritional yeast to add on top, but I didn’t…Well there is always next time!)
It kinda freaked me out how much these “meatballs” looked like regular meatballs! The color was so similar to the ones my mom and grandma make. Although the texture and taste were different 😉 After I took the beauty shots for this recipe, I added more “meatballs”, hemp seeds (totally try this), some raw mushrooms, and some crunchy lettuce! It was the perfect dinner two nights in a row!
So tell me:
Do you have a big Italian family?
Have you ever been to Italy? O I want to go so bad! It looks so beautiful. It is the first place out of the county I want to vacation to if I ever get the chance!
Got any “healthified” comfort food favorites to share? Link up!