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The best vegan spaghetti and meatballs recipe

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

By Isabella Hawke

The Italians are an amazing nationality and as COVID-19 keeps them confined to their homes their community spirit never ceases to amaze me. They've been singing from their balconies and the police have been playing guitars and singing in the street to serenade the bored locals. Despite the lockdown and the horrible number of deaths in Italy from COVID-19 (25,085 to date as I type) They still remain community-spirited and uplifted.

From some of the most amazing landscapes to architecture, art, fashion, and food the Italians seem to be good at everything.

Back in 2000 for around two years, I was privileged enough to be able to fly out to Venice every weekend and for every school holiday. I had two small children at the time who didn't really appreciate how amazing Venice, Mestre and the Dolomites were, and still are. I'm sure they still don't realize how amazing these places are as they haven't been back to Italy since 2002.

I remember the smell of home-cooked food, authentic food cooked by natives to Venice, Mestre, and the Dolomites. I'll never forget the community-minded people full of happiness and pleased to socialize and share their food with me. From Pizza to pasta to home-cooked secret recipes I experienced it all the pescatarian way.

Sadly I didn't become vegetarian until 2009 ad vegan in 2012, long overdue, I know.

One of my favourite meals from Venice was meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta. Obviously they cooked mine without the meatballs but I didn't feel left out.

Meatballs and spaghetti isn't actually an Italian thing and you won't find it on most menus but you can find it in the home. Meatballs and Spaghetti, it's more of a, well I'll explain later but it definitely didn't originate in Italy.

Today there are many vegan alternatives to pork and beef meatballs and I use our local supermarket versions. I find No Bull meatballs and Sainsbury's meatballs to be the best in texture and taste. In fact, they look the same taste similar and the texture is the same and I can eat them guilt-free.

The recipe I'm about to share with you has until recently been a family secret and not one for sharing. However it's too good not to share it with you as it tastes amazing, costs very little, it's quick to prepare and easy to make.


Contrary to common belief, you won't find meatballs and spaghetti on an Italian menu in Italy. Meatballs in Italy are known as polpettes, and are mostly eaten without spaghetti and tomato sauce.

They’re made from any type of meat, including turkey and fish, and are no bigger than the size of a golf ball.

Spaghetti and meatballs originated from the Italian immigrants who migrated to America between 1880 and 1920. The majority of immigrants were extremely impoverished and spent 75% of their income on food in Italy, compared to only 25% of their income in America.

From here, meat quickly became a household staple, and most Italian families were putting meatballs on their dinner table more frequently.




  • Preparation time: 10 minutes

  • Cooking Time: 25 minutes


  • Half a cup of cooking oil (I use rapeseed oil)

  • 1 x pint of vegetable stock

  • 2 x medium-sized onions chopped

  • 1 x punnet of mushrooms sliced

  • 1 x red pepper chopped

  • 2 x garlic cloves sliced

  • 3 x cups of dried pasta

  • 1 x tablespoon of tomato puree

  • 1 x can of chopped tomatoes

  • 3 x chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1 x handful of fresh coriander

  • I x handful of fresh parsley

  • 1 x teaspoon of smoked paprika

  • 1 x teaspoon of salt

  • 1 x teaspoon of black pepper

  • 1 x teaspoon of white pepper



  • Place half of the oil into a pan and bring to the boil.

  • Once boiling place half of the garlic, mushrooms, onions, and all of the pepper into the pan and stir until the ingredients begin to caramelize.

  • Add in the can of tomatoes stir and heat until the mixture thickens.

  • Add in the vegetable stock and reduce the heat.

  • Simmer on a low heat until the water in the pan has reduced to a thickish consistency (about 15 minutes).


  • Heat a saucepan of cold water to the boiling point, add in the dried pasta with some salt and cook for 15 minutes string regularly.

  • Once al-dente (not sloppy and not hard somewhere in-between place the pasta into a cullender, drain the water and return the pasta to the pan.

  • Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of oil and stir.

  • Put the pasta in a serving dish ready to serve.


  • Add the rest of the garlic, mushrooms, and onion to the pan and stir until the ingredients caramelize.

  • Add in the meatballs, parsley, coriander, salt, white and black pepper, and the smoked paprika and stir.

  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree until the meatballs are nearly cooked.

  • Add into the mixture the sauce from earlier and cook on a medium-light until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked.

  • Place in a serving bowl once cooked.

You can serve the meatballs and spaghetti with Cheese, we currently use Sainsbury's fake cheese or Violife cheese as they taste less chalky than most of the vegan cheeses.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. It takes a little bit longer than normal to cook but the wait is worth it.

If you enjoyed this recipe please share it so others can benefit from it too.

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