Why should you have to miss out on "meatballs" if you don't eat meat? This version of vegetarian meatballs is satisfying & easy to make. 259 calories and 5 Weight Watchers Freestyle SP
Cannellini Bean Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe
Vegetarian meatballs will satisfy any non-meat eater! Before I met my husband, I wasn’t much of a bean eater. It wasn’t that they didn’t appeal to me, but rather that I didn’t grow up eating a lot of Mexican food or other cuisines that might include the protein- and fiber-packed morsels. Everything changed when my husband ordered some black bean soup at a restaurant just a few blocks away from our New York City apartment. This wasn’t just any black bean soup – nope, this one was garnished with crispy chorizo sausage. I was a goner. You couldn’t stop me – cannellini beans in salads, kidney beans in chili, black beans in veggie burgers. You name it, I cooked it. As a result, my kids loved beans right from the get-go and we incorporate the healthy legumes into many of our meals.
When I heard that this round of Kitchen Play's SideCar series was to feature beans in a meal that would satisfy the whole family, I knew I had this one in the bag. The hardest part was choosing which type of beans I would use. I started thinking of comfort foods, dishes that my family likes to eat as the thermostat drops and the days grow shorter. Spaghetti and meatballs popped to mind immediately and, as we are trying to work more meatless meals into our weekly menu, it seemed fitting to make a vegetarian version.
When I think of oregano, garlic and parsley, I turn right to cannellini beans. In this recipe, I pureed the cannellini beans with roasted red peppers and then combined them with all of the regular meatballs ingredients, such as breadcrumbs and an egg. Baked in the oven and then simmered in tomato sauce, these bean “meatballs” are as healthy as they are tasty.
I throw everything into a large nonstick skillet and let it simmer until done.
Now, don’t expect the “meatballs” to have the same texture as versions made with ground beef or turkey. These ones have a soft texture, with a golden brown coating. They are substantial and hearty, and made me fall in love with the versatility of beans all over again.
The vegetarian meatballs recipe:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
NOTE: Take care not to overprocess the "meatballs". This could cause them to fall apart later.
Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
The amount of breadcrumbs required can change depending on the climate (dry vs. humid). If you find that the "meatballs" are not holding together firmly as you are shaping the first few, add more breadcrumbs, then reshape.
Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat your favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat.
Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over spaghetti.
Other family-friendly cannellini bean recipes:
Vegetarian Mushroom & Cannellini Bean Ragout
Mediterranean Chicken, Bean & Pasta Soup
Pasta e Fagioli
Cannellini Bean Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce
- 1 ½ cans 15 ounces each Bush's Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 roasted red bell pepper 2 halves, roughly chopped
- ½ medium yellow onion grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 egg
- ½ cup dried breadcrumbs see note
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups marinara sauce your favorite kind
- Parmesan cheese for grating
- cooked spaghetti
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
- Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
- Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Serve over spaghetti and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bush's Beans. All opinions are my own. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Looking forward to trying this. I'm wondering if oats can be substituted for bread crumbs.
Hi Sheri, I haven't tried oats in this recipe, but they should work as a binder.
AMAZING RECIPE! Thank you! trying to go vegan for my cholesterol issue. I did add the egg though lol.
I loved it and so did my boyfriend. I didn't completely follow the recipe as i didn't have bread crumbs so i used flour and I didn't have a food processor so I used My blender. It was so good !! Next time I'll try following by the book !!
I high recommend!!!! <3
I made these using gluten-free Italian breadcrumbs and they were incredible! I subbed a pesto sauce for the tomato sauce, as I cannot eat tomatoes, and the combination was great! I can't wait to eat the leftovers for my lunch today.
Wow that looks delicious, thanks for the recipe.
We're wheat, corn and potato free. Any ideas for substitutions for the bread crumbs?
Hello Dara, I made this dish today and it was delicious. My husband really like it.. The next time I make this, I'll add water chestnuts for crunch. Thank you so much for sharing.
I veganized these with a flax egg instead of real egg and they were amazing! Fantastic recipe! Thank you Xx
Did you roast the red bell pepper in the oven, then remove the skin and dice? This is how I usually use a roasted bell pepper, but that seems like it might be a little too moist for this recipe? I haven't tried it yet, but in your picture your red bell pepper looks not quite the same as how my roasted bell pepper looks and I just want to follow this recipe as close as possible! Also, did you incorporate the entire bell pepper in the food processor?
P.S. I'm cooking these for dinner tonight and CAN'T wait to try them!!!!
Hi Kate - yes, that is exactly how I roast my peppers, too. Before roasting, I cut the peppers in half, remove the seed and membrane, then roast skin-side-up. I don't find that I have a lot of moisture. Here's my photo tutorial on roasting bell peppers. Once roasted, skinned and chopped, I throw them into the food processor. If you find that the meatballs are too moist (because every climate seems to produce a slightly different result), just incorporate some extra breadcrumbs. I hope you enjoy the meatballs!
Hi, are these freezable?
I haven't tried freezing them, so am not sure. I'd be a bit concerned about them falling about when defrosted.
Ooooh…I JUST made these for dinner tonight! SO delicious! I love the flavor of the red pepper and paired with marinara….so good! My whole family loved them!
Just made this tonight! SO, SO GOOD! Wonderful recipe. It almost tasted like meat! I'm vegan but sometimes use eggs from our chickens so I made it for my meat-eater family and they really enjoyed it. I used cannellini beans as well as half a can of black beans in chilli sauce that was in a can which gave it an extra kick. Very yum, healthy and lots of protein.