Sunday, December 9, 2007

Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meat"balls

Pasta is a favourite at home and both S and I love trying out pasta dishes when we eat out. I have tried making different kinds of pasta and different sauces too……risoni (rice shaped pasta) became one of our favourites till Nilgiris stopped stocking it for some reason.Pasta which looks like rice – can’t be a better thing to appeal to our South Indian sensibilities I guess ;).
Then there’s farfalle, penne and macaroni – in order of preference.
I don’t prefer the baked versions very much, since it usually calls for way more cheese than we should be having, and it becomes too heavy. Lasagne is the one thing that hubby can’t resist though when we eat out and it was his way of checking out if a new place made the grade – don’t get your lasagna right? Don’t even bother again! It’s a different matter that most restaurants in Chennai used to have chicken lasagna on the menu, is that an oxymoron I wonder…..

Spaghetti however, doesn’t get made too often, because I love having a LOT of sauce with it and I usually don’t have that many tomatoes on hand!

On one of those rare occasions when I had everything for the sauce and the spaghetti on the same day ( a cosmic event!), I decided to make a nice sauce with it to go with the spaghetti.

Then I decided to make meatballs – without the mutton, since I don’t cook mutton at home often – make that “at all”! I don’t eat mutton and hubby avoids red meat too. Chicken is my usual substitute but I didn’t feel like eating chicken either that night.

So, then my mind started wandering, which led to some internet searching…..turns out there are so many recipes out there for “meatless meatballs”, my head started spinning!! Apparently people want to make vegetarian meatballs taste exactly like meat. Well, I don’t miss mutton at all considering I wasn’t a big meat eater at any point, so I just wantedto make – well vegetarian dumplings to put into the sauce with my spaghetti!

So, I shut down all the search windows which were bent on confusing my already addled brain and keeping in mind the various things and ingredients used in different recipes, made my own version. I decided to go with silken tofu – first time I would be using it – mushrooms and walnuts.

I was amazed at how well they turned out….the walnuts and the mushrooms gave the tofu a really nice texture and “bite”. It also kept its shape very well, both while frying and in the sauce, so I think thats a great thing - no fussing to keep it from breaking!
Spaghetti and Vegetarian "Meat"balls

Spaghetti – 250gms

For the sauce:
Tomatoes – ½ kg
Garlic – 5-6 cloves chopped fine
Cumin powder – ¼ tsp
Chilli powder – ½ tsp
Mixed dry herbs – 2 tbsp
Freshly crushed black pepper – 1 tsp
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Vegetarian "Meat"balls:
Silken Tofu – firm – 1 cup crumbled
Walnuts – 2 tbsp finely chopped
Mushrooms – 100 gms cleaned and finely chopped
Whole wheat flour – 1 tbsp
Bread crumbs – ¼ cup
Salt to taste
Oregano – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Pepper powder – 1 tsp

Oil – 2 tbsp to shallow fry or 1 tbsp to bake.

1. Wash tomatoes, microwave with just enough water for 3 minutes on high. Remove, dunk into cold water and peel.
2. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes and scoop with juices into a vessel
3. Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic to it, sauté for a minute and then add the tomatoes to the garlic, sauté for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add chilli powder, cumin powder and salt, let it cook covered for about 15 minutes, adding a splash of water in between if needed. It should cook to a thick sauce consistency.
5. Add the mixed herbs and a bit of vegetable stock or water if it is too thick. Add the crushed pepper just before taking off the flame.
6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti as per directions on the pack and toss it with a tsp of olive oil and keep warm. Ideally, make the spaghetti just before you are ready to eat, so that it doesn’t dry out.
7. Assemble all the ingredients for the balls in a bowl, except the oil. Mix well and combine till it all comes together, adding just enough bread crumbs as is necessary to bind the balls together.
Check and adjust seasoning. Should make about 10-12 balls.
8. Shallow fry the balls in 2 batches adding a tbsp of oil each time, till they change colour and are brown on all sides. Or bake them in an oven for about 15 minutes at 180 C, rotating them in between so they brown evenly.
9. Add them to the warm sauce and keep aside
10. When ready to serve, plate the warm spaghetti individually and pour some of the warm sauce and meatballs over it.
This dish is going to Presto Pasta Nights, a weekly event hosted by Ruth over here @ Once Upon a Feast.


Meera said...

That's so delicious! My daughter would love it. She just loves Spaghetti and meatballs!!

Sig said...

:) the meatless meatballs look like the real thing... though I would use mutton in it ;) Pasta looks delicious too...

Miri said...

Sig, I can't digest mutton any more so I stay well away from it!

Thanks Meera :)

Nags said...

the veg meatballs are a boon to the vegetarians, eh? :) nice one!


Thats a wonderful dish and like that veg..meat balls:)

sagari said...

meat balls look soo tempting and lovelyyy spaghetti

Laavanya said...

Those meatballs look fab and what a great idea Miri to use tofu. I also like the fact that it involves no deep-frying. :)

Anonymous said...

The meatballs look yumm. I am not yet a pasta convert :(

sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook

Shella said...

the meatballs look gorgeous!!

Ruth Daniels said...

What a fantastic entry into Presto Pasta NIghts. I love the meatless balls. Hope to see more of your pasta dishes at Presto Pasta Nights.

Miri said...

Thanks Ruth - I definitely will be coming over more often considering how much I love pasta - can't wait to try out some of the dishes from your previous round ups too...

Gay Carrillo said...

The meatless meatballs are a gem. Must taste great!

Anonymous said...

For onion lovers: I use a whole white onion minced in a food processor in the sauce and about 1/4 to 1/3 of an onion in the meatballs. I saute the onion with the garlic for the sauce and leave it uncooked in the meatballs.

Thanks for the recipe!

Ritta said...

I love it ,except for the microwave part, You can use boiling water instead

Raven said...

Do I have to use silken tofu, or can I use the kind packaged in water?

Miri said...

Raven - you can use either, as long as it gives the right texture to be made into meatballs.