Vegetarian "Meatballs" & Marinara with Chickpea Lentil Pasta

Vegetarian ‘Meatballs’ & Marinara with Chickpea Lentil Pasta is one of those savory comfort foods that you can enjoy guilt-free because it’s chock full of delicious goodness! Roasting these nutrient dense vegetables adds a whole new depth of flavor to one of our very favorite foods!

Robyn from Simply Fresh Dinners is back today to share her new dish. Sounds like she was playing mad scientist again!

I just love it when an experiment is successful! I’ve been looking at zucchini meatballs on the internet but something was missing for me. You know I love roasting my veggies and mushrooms, garlic and onions are at the top of that list – and so an idea was born.

This meal came together so easily because I used Uncle Steve’s organic, gluten-free marinara sauce that is so much deliciousness in a jar you’ll lose your mind!  I make my own spaghetti sauce but when I discovered this product I was completely sold.  Did you know that they only use unpeeled, whole tomatoes imported from Italy?  Oh yes, they do!  They are also part of this month’s giveaway so don’t miss out on entering! And yes, he looks familiar – that’s Steve Schirripa from Sopranos and Blue Bloods.  Too cool!

I used my wonderful extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar from Capizzano Olive Oils and Vinegars. This is another secret of mine that I want to share. This company has the most exquisite olive oils I’ve tasted.

Did I tell you the story where I stood at the kitchen counter and devoured a salmon fillet that had just come from the oven after it was roasted in their Cobrancosa? Fantastic! And – wait – for it – you’re going to get a chance to win all these oils too!

And here it comes – did I mention you can win a VITAMIX too?!  Surprise!!  This one is from the newest Ascent Series and I call it my ‘tank’!  This bad boy will serve up super creamy sauces, soups, chunky salsas – any thing you want – it delivers.  I get excited every time I use mine.

The blender looks murky because the veggies are hot. I have no patience to wait for cooling and I love it that Vitamix can take any heat your throw at it. After those yummy veggies were roasted in the oven I tossed them into the blender and about 45 seconds gave me just the consistency I needed for the ‘meatballs’.

The recipe is that simple! What’s your healthy comfort food? Share with us on Chickapea’s Instgram so we can see what you’re up to in your kitchen – use hashtag #chickapeapasta. Cheers!

5 from 5 votes
Vegetarian 'Meaballs & Marinara with Chickpea Lentil Pasta
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Vegetarian ‘Meatballs’ & Marinara with Chickpea Lentil Pasta is one of those savory comfort foods that you can enjoy guilt-free because it’s chock full of delicious goodness! 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 390 kcal
Author: Robyn Gleason | Simply Fresh Dinners
Ingredients
  • 'MEATBALLS'
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 8-10 large, button mushrooms, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into large slices
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch oregano
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 28 ounces high quality, marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces Chickapea Pasta penne
  • TOPPINGS
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

    Combine zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and red onion in a large bowl. Mix together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss with vegetables.

    Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven.

  2. Add vegetables with spinach to high powered blender or food processor and blend until broken down but not mushy.
  3. Place mixture in wire strainer and squeeze out any extra water before adding remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 F.

    Roll meatballs into preferred size. (I went a little big on mine because that's how I like them) I would recommend about half that size. About a 2 tablespoon scoop should do it.

    Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. I use parchment paper to help with clean up.

  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and rinse.

  6. Heat up marinara sauce in large saucepan.

    When meatballs are baked, add them to the marinara sauce and heat through.

  7. Distribute pasta to plates and top with meatballs and sauce. Garnish with your choice of basil, cheese, and/or red pepper flakes.

    When you're cooking up vegetable meatballs, healthy pasta and organic marinara sauce you can cheat on the cheese topping!

Recipe Notes

Leave out the cayenne if the kids don't like spicy.

It's crucial to use quality marinara sauce.   The meatballs are a labor of love so let's give them the best sauce!

I went a little heavy on the garlic in the meatballs, you can cut back on that if you're not a fan.

 

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