I saw this recipe recently on Pinterest, originally posted from the Cookin’ Canuck. It sounded great, and I’ve been looking for a way to make homemade ‘meat’balls for a while. I have tried frozen meat alternatives from the supermarket (see my post: Comparing Meat Free ‘Meat’Balls), but I was still looking for something I could make myself, rather than eating something processed. I was really looking forward to making this recipe.

This recipe is very easy to make, and doesn’t take very long at all! It took me about 10 minutes to make the ‘meat’balls, and then another 15 minutes to cook them in the oven. Once they were in the oven, I prepared my sauce and boiled my linguini, and even steamed some tenderstem broccoli to go with it.

Uncooked 'meatballs' ready to go into the oven

Uncooked ‘meatballs’ ready to go into the oven

I was really pleased with how the ‘meat’balls turned out. I was afraid they would be a strange consistency, or not hold together well. They were nice and firm on the outside, so they kept their shape perfectly. I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I prepared my sauce in a large skillet instead of a saucepan, allowing me to gently place the balls into the sauce. I then spooned the sauce over the top of them instead of stirring everything together.

The ‘meat’balls were really filling. They were weighty and substantial. The recipe made 8 really good sized ‘meat’balls, but as there were only 2 of us eating, I served three each. That was probably one too many as they are filling. Both my husband and I agreed they tasted really nice, had a great consistency, and would also make excellent bean burgers if shaped into patties, which I’ll try soon.

Cannellini Bean Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce

Cannellini Bean Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce

I would definitely try this recipe again!

Original recipe from the Cookin’ Canuck:


  • 1 ½ cans (15 oz. each) Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper (2 halves), roughly chopped (I used jarred peppers)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs (see note)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
  • Parmesan cheese for grating
  • Cooked spaghetti


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
  4. Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  5. Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Serve over spaghetti and top with grated Parmesan cheese.


The amount of breadcrumbs required can change depending on the climate (dry vs. humid). If you find that the “meatballs” are not holding together firmly as you are shaping the first few, add more breadcrumbs, then reshape.

My tomato sauce recipe:


2 cartons chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
sea salt
red wine (or port)
2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp Umami paste
2 tsp tomato paste
olive oil


In a saucepan (or large skillet), heat a little olive oil. Add the onion and fry until cooked through (about 3-4 minutes). Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Once hot and bubbling, add a good glug of red wine (or port) and 2 tsp of granulated sugar (to balance the acidity). Add about 2 tsp of Umami paste and also of tomato paste. Stir to combine. Season with dried oregano and sea salt/pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened – about 10 minutes.

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