I remember coming home from school every Friday and as soon as we pulled up smelling sweet stewing tomatoes, the aromatic scent of basil and savory aromas just engulfing my being. It was the smell of home. The smell of comfort. The smell of nourishment. I come from a very mixed heritage family but the biggest influences in our food were always Italian and Mexican. Everything slow made from produce in our garden or from local farms. I grew up LOVING good food. When I went vegan I had incredible support, when I went gluten free a little less support. For all the Italians reading this I expect laughter and understanding. This gluten free, vegan pasta and marinara topped with 'meaty' tempeh meatballs is extraordinary. One of my husbands favorite meals it is a reminder of old memories but this time with healthy alterations for a better life and better world. No animals harmed, all the flavor and everything you remember from childhood.
The Goods ::
For the Marinara ::
1 large Sweet or yellow onion
1 shallot minced
8-9 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 roasted red peppers chopped
1 Jar Organic Crush Tomatoes
1 Jar Organic Tomato Sauce
5-6 Organic Roma Tomatoes ( Or any tomatoes you love
1 bunch basil
1 bunch parsley
1-2 Oregano sprigs
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
Pink Salt + Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Tempeh Meatballs ::
1 medium sweet onion, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 flax or chia egg
8 ounces organic gluten free tempeh
1/3 cup Brazil Nut Parmesan Cheese or sub your favorite vegan parm
Half a handful of minced Basil
6-8 oregano leaves minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup vegan gluten free bread crumbs or sub almond meal I love both
4 Tbsp of homemade Marinara
Olive Oil for sautéing + Pink Salt and Pepper to taste
1/3 cup Vegan Gluten Free Bread Crumbs to Coat
1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese or Brazil Nut Parm to Coat
Get Cooking ::
Preheat oven to 375 F
To begin turn on your FAVORITE music. This is imperative whilst making pasta. Or a good book on tape. Something you can get lost in while you mince, dice, chop and saute. It infuses the dish with a little extra fun and love. Now get ready to prep. You are going to mince your onions, garlic, shallot, tomatoes, basil, and parsley for the marinara. Once everything is ready to go heat a large cast iron pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add your onions, shallot and garlic with some salt, pepper and a couple pinches of your herbs and saute until golden and fragrant. Once the whole room smells like heaven add your jars of tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. More salt, pepper and herbs. Bring to gentle simmer and add your roasted red peppers and your coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Use your smell and your taste. Add more salt, sugar, pepper and herbs as you see fit. I add the bulk of my basil and parsley towards the end as I like the green fresh taste against the sweetness of the marinara.
While your marinara is simmering away you can begin your tempeh meatballs!
In another large cast iron skillet, sautee onion and garlic in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until soft, slightly golden and fragrant.
Get your food processor out and then open up your tempeh and break it up and put it in the processor. Add the beautiful onions and garlic along with remaining ingredients! Process until you have a moldable dough. Feel free to add in some roasted red peppers if you have some left from making the marinara. Taste and season to your preference.
Roll your dough into balls and heat the same skillet you sauteed the onions and garlic in. Put the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese onto a plate and gently mix. I add a pinch of pink salt and pepper as well. Roll each tempeh meatball into this coating and then add to your pan. Brown on each side.
Mix remaining bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a shallow dish. Add tempeh balls one or two at a time and roll to coat. Once coated put into your pan to brown on each side. Once browned drizzle marinara all over meatballs. If you are using a cast iron you can put the meatballs directly into the oven for 15 minutes until crispy and gorgeous. If you are not using cast iron make sure to transfer to a baking sheet before putting in the oven!
Boil the pasta of your choice, I use gluten free pasta from Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Drain and toss with your marinara sauce. Top with your tempeh meatballs and sprinkle some more Parmesan cheese on top! Now sit down and enjoy with family and friends! xo