Nov 6, 2020 | LIFE | By Kara Thomas | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian

I grew up in the Midwest. Midwestern culture includes football, beer, and being overly friendly to every stranger you pass on the street. Midwestern culture also includes consuming every type of comfort food imaginable: pot roast, lasagna, chili, chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, stews … the list could go on forever. Essentially, it’s a vegan’s nightmare.

My mom made the absolute best homemade meatballs and spaghetti growing up. It was a whole afternoon ordeal: I’d help her roast the homemade croutons, then form the meatballs to be ever-so-carefully pan fried to ensure thorough cooking and ultimate crispiness. Although I’m not fully vegan, I stopped eating meat about six years ago, so I’ve had to adapt many of my family’s staple recipes to suit my needs. Insert: meatless meatballs and spaghetti.

This recipe has been adapted from the New York Times. As always, the measurements listed below are simply a guide; please adjust to suit your needs!

Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs*
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 lbs. ground vegan meat (I use Impossible meat)
  • Marinara sauce
  • 1 box of spaghetti noodles

*You can either buy pre-made breadcrumbs, or make your own. To make your own, simply roast a few pieces of bread in the oven until they are almost burnt, then crush them up.


In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and oregano, and mix well. Add vegan meat, and blend with your hands until well-mixed. Cover the mixture and chill for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.

Preheat your oven to 450oF  (or set to broil). Form rounded meatballs with your hands, each about one inch in diameter. Transfer meatballs to one or two rimmed baking sheets, and drizzle with olive oil.

Broil meatballs until golden and firm, about seven to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Heat your marinara sauce in a pot. Serve meatballs with a scoop of pasta, and top with sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, if you desire.

For those who might be wary of vegan meat, I made this recipe for my housemates a few weeks back and they absolutely loved it; in fact, they raved about these meatballs and have been begging me to make them again. Therefore, I encourage you to give it a shot!

Please shoot me an email if you have any food/cooking related questions; I’d be happy to answer them! Additionally, if you have any ideas for future recipes or cooking tips, feel free to send them my way as well. My email is

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