Blended chickpea and lamb meatballs are paired with pasta, red sauce, and melty slices of fresh mozzarella in this Mediterranean-inspired Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.
This post is sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada.
Have you ever tried a “blended” recipe?
Maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of plant-based eating, but you feel totally overwhelmed by the thought of going vegan.
Maybe you’re used to having meat with every meal, but you want to try something new without straying too far from your comfort zone.
Or maybe (like me) you live with a flexible, Mediterranean-inspired approach to food.
If any of the above is true, this Baked Spaghetti and Blended Meatballs recipe is for you.
What does it mean to be “blended?”
These meatballs aren’t vegetarian, but they’re not exactly meat-based, either.
Consider them a chickpea/lamb hybrid.
The trick to making a protein-packed blended meatball?
Pulses are the protein-packed, sustainable foods better known as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dry peas.
Mashing chickpeas (or any type of cooked pulse variety) and using them in place of some of the ground meat in a recipe is one of the easiest ways to transition toward a more sustainable, plant-based lifestyle. I think the flavor is even more delicious, too.
How to Make Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs:
This is a crowd-pleasing recipe that’s actually pretty easy to cook and clean up after since the meatballs and sauce are made in the same pot. I used my Dutch oven, but a large, oven-safe skillet with raised edges also works.
First, make the meatballs.
Mix together mashed chickpeas, ground lamb, breadcrumbs, parsley, and a few other simple ingredients. Use your hands to form the mixture into balls, and then brown them in your dutch oven on the stovetop.
Once the meatballs are browned, transfer them to a plate or anywhere they’ll be safe and out of the way while you make the sauce.
The next step is making the tomato sauce.
Add more oil to the Dutch oven if you need to before cooking the onions and garlic with whole peeled tomatoes and spices. Use a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes into small pieces. Once the sauce is finished, stir in greens and fresh basil and turn off the heat.
Finally, put it all together and bake.
Now you just need to add in cooked spaghetti and the meatballs you previously set aside. Spread fresh mozzarella on top and bake to melty perfection.
Looking for more ways to add pulses to your day?
Sign up for the Half-Cup Habit challenge on the Pulses website.
You can also find more delicious pulse recipes here.
- 8 ounces dry spaghetti
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced (see note)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (drain and rinse if canned)
- ½ pound ground lamb (see note)
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounccan whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- Fresh basil
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Crushed red pepper
Add dry spaghetti to large pot of boiling water and cook 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain (do not rinsand set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mash cooked chickpeas in a large bowl. Stir in ground lamb, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, egg, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until they are uniformly incorporated. Form into 1 ½-inch balls.
Add grapeseed oil to a Dutch oven or large oven-safe skillet with raised edges over medium-high heat. Spread meatballs on Dutch oven or skillet and cook 3 minutes each side, or until browned on edges and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transfer meatballs to a plate and set aside.
Add more oil to Dutch oven or skillet if needed. Stir in diced onion and cook 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in garlic. Stir in whole peeled tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper. Use wooden spoon to break open whole tomatoes as they soften. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until tomatoes are broken into small pieces and a chunky red sauce forms.
Stir in baby spinach and fresh basil. Turn off heat.
Carefully stir in cooked spaghetti and meatballs with sauce in the Dutch oven or skillet.
Spread sliced fresh mozzarella on top of the spaghetti mixture and bake uncovered on the center rack 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Garnish with fresh basil, grated parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper if desired.
Substitute shredded mozzarella for sliced fresh mozzarella if desired.
Substitute ground beef or ground turkey for ground lamb if desired.
Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
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