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Recipe of the Month: Spaghetti and Neatballs

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July 3, 2013

by Mark Reinfeld, founding chef of Blossoming Lotus, award winning cookbook author and Vegan Fusion instructor. Meet Mark at Northwest VEG's Portland potluck on July 21!

One of the first dishes I learned to prepare as a child was meatballs and spaghetti. It is such a delight to be able to share this cow friendly version. Tempeh replaces the meat and the oat flour holds it all together. Top with Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce (see below) or your favorite pasta sauce. Serve with pasta du jour.

Tempeh Neatballs

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 16-ounces tempeh, finely diced
  • 1/4 c oat flour
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T wheat-free tamari or other soy sauce
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T minced fresh basil
  • 2 T minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp ground fennel, optional
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Oil for sautéing
  • 12-ounce jar pasta sauce or Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce (see below)

1. Combine all of the ingredients except the oil for sautéing and the pasta sauce in a large bowl and mix well. Form into 10 equal sized balls ( think golf ball size) and set aside.
2. Add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the tempeh balls and cook until slightly crispy brown, approximately 7 minutes, gently flipping to ensure all sides are cooked.
3. Reduce the heat to simmer, add the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.
Serves 6 TO 8

Variation: You can also bake the tempeh balls. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the balls on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Gently flip and bake an additional 10 minutes. If you wish you can flip every 5 minutes rolling the balls on a different side with each flip.

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce
Tomato sauce is perhaps the most iconic symbol of Italian cuisine. Roasting the vegetables creates an added depth of flavor compared to the traditional sauté and simmer method. Make a double batch and use for all your pasta sauce needs.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 8 medium tomatoes, 1/2-inch chop (6 cups)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel, optional
  • 6 to 8 large whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 T finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 T finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 T roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh minced rosemary, optional
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, or sweetener of choice
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced sage, optional
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the olive oil, wine, tomatoes, onion, garlic, fennel, if using, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and ground black pepper in a large casserole dish and stir well. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
2. Place the contents of the casserole dish in a blender, blend until smooth, and transfer to a large pot over medium high heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, including the remaining salt, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Makes 6 cups

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