Inspired living

Vegie Balls & Wholemeal Penne in Tomato Sauce with Pesto Recipe

Vegie Balls & Wholemeal Penne in Tomato Sauce with Pesto Recipe

Credit: Adam Guthrie

This is my plant-based version of the classic Italian pasta and meatballs. You can make super-good balls from vegies and legumes and grains. The trick to binding them is chickpea flour.

Serves: 4



  • Vegie Balls
  • 1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 2 cups kale leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vegan Massell brand “beef style” stock powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

  • Tomato Sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
    2 stalks celery, finely diced
    650mL jar passata
  • 2 × 400g tins diced tomatoes
    1½ cups liquid Massell brand vegan “beef style” stock
    1 cup wholemeal penne
    1 cup non-alcoholic red wine
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
    1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • Vegan Pesto
    3 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
  • ½ cup pine nuts
    ½ cup cashews
    1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup water
    ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  1. To make vegie balls, place all ingredients into bowl and mash with hands to crush into paste and mix to combine. Roll mixture into balls.
  2. Heat large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and cook balls in 2 batches, turning, for 5 mins or until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. To make tomato sauce, add all sauce ingredients into slow cooker or Dutch oven. Stir to combine. Add vegie balls, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook slowly on very low heat for 2 hours or until pasta is al dente and balls are firm and cooked through.
  4. To make vegan pesto, place basil leaves, pine nuts, cashews, garlic, water and nutritional yeast into blender. Pulse to rough sauce, pour into bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place pot on centre of table and sprinkle with basil leaves, for everyone to help themselves and drizzle over some pesto and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternatively, place balls and sauce into serving dish.


Adam Guthrie

Adam is a vegan whose passion for food began with a life-threatening illness and continues today in a lifestyle built around healthy cooking and eating. Adam is a qualified chef and wellness coach who specialises in a wholefood, plant-based diet. Adam shares how to prepare delicious, healthy food for health, energy and vitality. He conducts online healthy eating and wellness programs and gives keynote talks, live cooking demonstrations and cooking classes on the subject of healthy eating and living well.