Easy enough to make for a special weeknight meal, but fancy enough to serve when hosting a casual dinner party, this dish will become a staple in your house.
1⅓ cups packed, fresh, soft whole-grain bread crumbs (from about 3 to 4 large slices) (see note)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped mushrooms
½ cup diced onion
¾ pound organic spaghetti (see note)
3 cups prepared vegan marinara sauce or your own homemade sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a medium baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.
Put the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Put the walnuts in a blender, and pulse to process into coarse crumbs. Add the walnuts to the bread crumbs and stir gently to incorporate.
Put the mushrooms and onion in a blender, and process to a chunky purée. Add the mushroom mixture to the walnut–bread crumb mixture and stir to incorporate. Spoon out about 1½ tablespoons of the mushroom mixture and roll it into a ball. Continue in this way with the remaining mushroom mixture. Arrange the wheatballs on the lined baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Gently rotate each wheatball and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until they are very crisp, firm to the touch and golden.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain the spaghetti well.
Meanwhile, pour the marinara sauce in a medium sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Gently add the wheatballs to the sauce, one at a time, cover, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.
To serve, put one-quarter of the spaghetti into each of four pasta bowls, and top with three or four wheatballs. Ladle marinara sauce over the top and serve immediately.
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- Chef’s Note: Freshly made bread crumbs must be used in this recipe, as dry bread crumbs will not hold the burgers together. To make fresh bread crumbs, tear 3 to 4 slices of fresh, soft whole-grain bread into chunks. Put the bread chunks in a blender and process into coarse crumbs.
- Gluten-free option: You may use your favorite gluten-free pasta and/or your favorite gluten-free bread in this recipe.
- The wheatballs make a sensational base for a terrific hero-style sandwich too!