This is one I’ve been excited to share with you as it’s become a staple in my home. It’s healthy, delicious, high in protein and semi-raw. Zucchetti (or zoodles, whatever you want to call it!) is a super fast and more nutritious alternative to pasta. It has a nice al dente texture without being too crunchy, and doesn’t take away from the other flavours. A vegetable spiraliser is handy here, although if you don’t have one check out this video for 3 alternative ways to make zucchini noodles.

Zucchini (especially raw) is a powerhouse of nutrients – including antioxidants, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, folate and vitamin K. It’s also great for digestion, has anti-inflammatory properties and is super low in calories. Safe to say it’s a much healthier choice than plain old durum wheat spaghetti!

Note that for the sauce, I’ve mentioned to use BPA-free canned tomatoes. While it’s best to buy BPA-free canned food wherever possible, it’s especially important for tomatoes as they are acidic. Why does this matter? Because acidic foods tend to draw out the BPA more so than non acidic foods. In other words, the BPA is likely to leach into the tomatoes (or any other acidic foods) rather than stay put in the can. If you’re not sure about why you should be wary of BPA, this article gives a good overview.

The ‘cheat’ balls themselves are really easy to make, no food processor needed. Hot tip: you can even make them on their own as a kick-ass finger food dish for a party, served with the tomato sauce on the side. I made these ones fairly large but you can also make them small and cute, whatever floats your boat.

This meal also pairs beautifully with a nice glass of (organic, vegan-friendly) red wine. Bon appétit 😉

Vegan Meat Balls Recipe


5 from 1 vote
Vegan Meat Balls Recipe
Zucchetti and Cheat Balls
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Vegan, semi-raw, rich and tasty!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Gluten-free, Italian, Vegan Meatballs
  • 3 large zucchinis spiralised
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion diced
  • 2 cups mashed potato (skin on)
  • 1 cup cooked french lentils (or 1 x 400g tin)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (or other high smoke point oil) for frying
Rich Tomato Sauce
  • 2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes (BPA free cans are best)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup whole basil leaves or other fresh herbs of choice
To Make the Zucchetti
  1. Use a spiraliser to twist the zucchini's into spirals into a large bowl, then divide evenly between 4 bowls ready for serving. See recipe introduction above for a link to a video on ways to make zucchini noodles if you don't have a spiraliser

To Make the Sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the diced onion. Cook until onions are translucent

  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute

  3. Add all remaining sauce ingredients and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes while you prepare the cheat balls.

To Make the 'Cheat' Balls
  1. Chop the potatoes into 2.5cm (1 inch) chunks - I prefer skin-on for extra texture and nutrients, but you can peel them first if you like - then add them to vegetable steamer and cook until soft (approx 15 minutes)

  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frypan on low-medium heat and add the diced onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes until onion becomes translucent

  3. Place the oats into a blender and whiz for just a few seconds to break them down a little while still maintaining some texture. You don't want it to go as fine as flour

  4. Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl, and use a potato masher to mash

  5. Add all other ingredients and mix together thoroughly with a fork

  6. Roll the mixture into balls, whatever size you like ranging from 2-4cm in diameter

  7. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a large frypan on medium-high heat and cook the balls (in batches if necessary) by rotating them with a pair of tongs until golden brown on all sides. They won't necessarily be perfect round ball shapes unless you deep fry them, which we're avoiding here 😉

  8. Dallop the tomato sauce onto the zucchetti in the serving bowls, then top with the 'cheat' balls and enjoy!


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