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I’m not a huge fan of faux/processed meats, so I enjoy the challenge of recreating classic dishes with real whole foods from scratch. So here it is, my version of the beloved spaghetti and meatballs!

On a side note, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I rarely give exact measurements for salt in my recipes- I believe it’s just too personal of a decision. Depending on who you ask, it’s always too little or not enough. So my recommendation is: add a little shake, give it a taste, and see if it needs more. One of the many amazing things about plant-based cooking is that nothing is going to kill you -like raw meat could. This means you can really taste as you go along and control your flavors from beginning to end according to your own tastes.

Another ‘issue’ that has been brought to my attention is that I have a serious garlic addiction! Whatever amount of garlic a recipe tells me to add, I like to quadruple it. This is particularly noticeable in my raw recipes, where the garlic can have a wasabi-like intensity! So if you aren’t crazy about garlic or can’t handle the heat, A.) You’re a pansy, and you need to get it together, and B.) Just use about half of what my recipe says. Very simple solution. By the way, I think the garlic quantity in this recipe is actually a reasonable amount… for once.

I was really pleased with the great texture and loads of fresh flavor in these little meaty balls. I served this at a family brunch, and I got some very positive feedback from the skeptical non-veg crowd. Perfecto. Now tell me what you think if you try them!

Spaghetti and Juicy Eggplant Mushroom Meatballs

makes about 20 meatballs, depending on size

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup flax seed meal

3/4 cup water

*(Guess what? Last week I made these meatballs and totally forgot about the ‘flax egg’, but they still turned our really well. So if you don’t have flax meal or egg replacer of some kind in your repertoire, just leave it out. It’s only there to hold the balls together a tiny bit more, and they will still work without it.)

1 large eggplant, peeled and finely diced

3 cups finely diced Crimini mushrooms

8 cloves garlic, minced

3 shallots, finely diced

4 tbs olive oil, divided

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tbs red chili flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup white wine

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

1 cup panko bread crumbs

as much spaghetti as you want (I used a gluten-free bread crumbs and pasta)

Tomato sauce of your choice

Using tongs, hold the bell pepper over an open high flame on you stove until it starts to blacken and blister all over. Once it cools down, peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop it up very finely, almost to a pulp.

Combine the flax and water in a bowl, give it a stir and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add 3 tbs of olive oil to a big frying pan over medium heat. Throw in the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 additional minute.

Add the eggplant, bell pepper, and mushroom to the pan and continue to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Add the red chili flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Splash in the white wine to deglaze the pan and stir it around, scraping the bottom for 1 more minute.

Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit until you can handle it without burning yourself.

Strain the flax through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve to separate and reserve all the good sticky goo from the flax meal.

Add the panko, parsley, and ‘flax goo’, and mix everything together.

Grease a baking sheet with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Using your hands, mold the mixture into little 1.5″ meatballs, and line them up on the baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, turning every 8 minutes or so, so that they get brown all over.

Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti according to the box, and heat up the sauce in a separate pan.

Serve the spaghetti with a few meatballs piled on, and pour some sauce on top.

Just like grandma used to make.

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