Spaghetti and meatballs casserole

Spaghetti and meatballs casserole [Amuse Your Bouche]

I don’t often use ‘fake meat’ on this blog – in fact, I can’t actually remember ever doing it before – but in my ‘real life’ I use it fairly often (don’t tell anyone but the recipes you see on this blog aren’t really that representative of what I actually eat. My everyday meals are far, far more boring –  beans on toast anyone?). I love using unprocessed veggie ingredients like lentils or beans, but there is definitely a place in my life for ready-made, fake meat products too. They’re so convenient for sticking in the oven on an evening when I don’t want to cook (i.e.: most evenings), and they make it really easy to replicate standard ‘meaty’ meals. Such as: spaghetti and meatballs. Unlike the (inferior) normal version, this spaghetti and meatballs casserole has the added advantage that it’s baked, which means that along with the usual rich tomato sauce (which is actually made even more rich when baked), you get melty pockets of mozzarella, and as well as the usual soft and slurpy noodles, you get crispy bits on top. It’s like comfort food squared. And if there’s anything that I will happily take more of without question, it’s comfort food.

Spaghetti and meatballs casserole [Amuse Your Bouche]

It’s really easy to hide vegetables inside this casserole, which is good for two reasons. Firstly, it makes you eat more vegetables, which is always a good thing. Secondly, you can completely clear out your fridge and even if you wouldn’t usually use a particular vegetable in a dish like this, it will work. I had a few mushrooms to use up (I know, more mushrooms, but you can skip them in this if your mushroom tolerance has been reached this week) and a carrot that was getting a bit limp, so I stuck them in this and barely even noticed that they were there. It makes me feel very virtuous to know that I’m eating about twelve servings of vegetables in each mouthful. It totally justifies having beans on toast for dinner.

Spaghetti and meatballs casserole [Amuse Your Bouche]

Hiding the vegetables amongst piles of tomatoey spaghetti and pockets of melty mozzarella also means that this recipe would be great for kids – and since it only takes about 20 minutes of preparation, it makes a great weeknight dinner.

For the veggies among you: what’s your opinion on ‘fake meat’ products? Do they ever make an appearance at your dinner table?

Spaghetti and meatballs casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main meal
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 200g spaghetti (I used wholewheat)
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 12 vegetarian meatballs
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 100g mushrooms, diced quite small
  • 40g black olives, chopped roughly
  • 400g tomato sauce (shop-bought or homemade)
  • 50ml water
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 100g fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 2tbsp fresh basil, chopped, to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
  2. Boil the spaghetti until al dente (it will cook a little further in the oven).
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, and begin to cook the meatballs - mine were being cooked from frozen, so I cooked them quite slowly over a fairly low heat, but if yours are not frozen, you can cook them a bit more quickly over a slightly higher heat. When the meatballs are browned, add the onion, garlic and grated carrot, and cook for several more minutes before adding the mushrooms. Let everything cook together, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft and the meatballs are thawed (again, they'll cook further in the oven, but you want them to at least not be frozen any more).
  4. When the pasta is ready, drain it and combine it with the meatball mixture, the chopped olives, and the tomato sauce. If the mixture looks a bit thick, add a dash of water as well (if you used sauce from a jar, use the water to get the last bits from the jar). Season to taste.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish - I placed the meatballs in first to ensure that they were fairly evenly spaced out, then topped them with the remaining pasta and sauce. Dot with the diced mozzarella cheese, and press it in a little (alternatively you could grate the cheese and scatter it over the pasta, but I like the cheese to stay in little melty pockets).
  6. Bake for around 25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the edges of the spaghetti are a little crispy. Serve with fresh basil.

Remember, if you don’t like using sauce from a jar, you can always make your own tomato sauce in the slow cooker!

Comments

  1. Tracy says

    I use a lot of fake meat, specifically meatless meatballs. Trader Joes are my favorite; I’m wondering what brand you used here and if they held together in the casserole? I find they have a tendency to fall apart on me.

    • becca@amuse-your-bouche.com says

      I used Asda’s own brand – not sure if you’ll have them in the US? We don’t have Trader Joe’s over here :( the ones I used held up fine! I think it’d taste great even if they fell apart a bit though.

  2. Rachael says

    What a great, family-friendly weeknight dinner! Thanks for posting! We use fake meat products quite a lot, partly because they’re a good source of protein for the fussy eating kids, partly because they make a good base for a quick dinner, and partly because the kids have never eaten meat and hubby and I haven’t eaten it for 30 years, so we don’t think of them as a meat substitute. I know lots of vegetarians turn their nose up at them but they do make life easier, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing :)
    Rachael recently posted…Tofu biryaniMy Profile

  3. Hannah says

    As someone who has never eaten meat, I’m always a little torn over my opinions of ‘fake meat’. I frequently eat Quorn and some supermarket own-brands because it’s just SO easy, but I have absolutely no concept of how it compares to actual meat. When I cook with Quorn mince for my friends, they often say that they prefer it but the chicken and fish products tend not to go down quite so well (Tesco fish-less fingers? Avoid like the plague!) But mostly, I think they taste good and are much more versatile than using beans and lentils in everything. But like you, I tend to steer clear of them in recipes on my blog.

    I will DEFINITELY be trying this recipe, I think all pasta dishes would be better if they were baked!
    Hannah recently posted…New Hair!My Profile

    • becca@amuse-your-bouche.com says

      Yeah the mince usually goes down really well with my friends and family but the other things not so much. I love the chicken-style Quorn escalopes with different toppings – the garlic mushroom ones are ace :) and yes I made the mistake of trying the Quorn fish fingers once and couldn’t finish them – though I never did like fish even when I did eat meat.

  4. eLdritch says

    well I hate fake meat…

    buuuuut this was actually quite delicious without any meat at all :D I was contemplating adding some chicken (as i’m a vegetarian only when it suits me) but it really didn’t need it.

    In fact I’ve noticed before that most of your recipes are very adaptable for both carnivores and vegans with just a few substitutes and the results are always delicious. I’d call that the mark of a good recipe =)

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