Vegan meatballs made from black beans and brown rice on top spaghetti with basil leaves on top

Vegan pasta recipe: this ‘meatballs’ and spaghetti dinner supports gut health

Posted by for Nutrition

Support your gut with the addition of fiborous vegan meatballs to your usual spaghetti and sauce. 

The benefits of fibre range from improved digestion to a happier mood, but that doesn’t mean living on a diet of tasteless chickpeas and seeds. Rather than parking your favourite dishes, hitting your fibre goals should be all about what you can add to your most-loved meals – such as this vegan twist on old school spaghetti and sauce. 

Adding well-seasoned homemade ‘meatballz’ – made from fibrous black beans and brown rice – to pasta makes for a more gut-friendly dinner. Plus, it’s packed with magnesium and protein that will leave your muscles feeling just as cared for as your digestive system. Comfort food, but make it fibrous.


Two people (eight meatballz). 


30 minutes, plus prep time 


200 g gluten-free pasta or another good-quality pasta

For the meatballz:

75 g brown rice 

2–3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

A sprig of thyme

6 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce – more if you like your meatballs saltier

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

240 g black beans from a tin or jar drained

60 g oat bran 

3–4 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil

For the sauce:

Olive oil, for frying

1 small carrot, diced

1 small shallot, diced

1/2 small courgette, diced 

1 x 400 g tin tomatoes or good-quality tomato sauce 

Pink Himalayan salt and black pepper, to taste 

Bunch of basil, plus extra to serve

To serve:

Nut Parmesan 

Basil and rocket leaves


For the meatballz:

  1. Start by cooking the rice following the packet instructions. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, thyme, three tablespoons of tamari soy and the mustard. Cook for five minutes until the onion is nice and tender. Once cooked, take off the heat and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, add the onion mix along with black beans and pulse. Don’t overmix but blend until you have a sticky consistency.
  3. Empty into a bowl and add the oat bran, cooked rice and remaining three tablespoons of tamari or soy and give it a good mix. Line a baking tray (baking sheet) with greaseproof paper (wax paper) and with a small or big ice-cream scoop, scoop out balls of mixture and gently roll until you have a round shape. Place them on to the paper until you are ready to cook them.
  4. Heat the oil in a medium pan and cook the balls until they have a lovely crispy outside but are still nice and soft on the inside (five–10 minutes on each side should be enough).

For the spaghetti:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pan and add all the chopped veggies. Flavour with a pinch of salt and fry until nice and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce to the pan, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta following the packet instructions.
  2. Once the sauce has reduced and thickened, gently stir in a handful of basil. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce and give it another gentle stir. At this stage you can add the non-meatballz and warm through. 
  3. Serve straight from the pan sprinkled with nut parmesan and a handful of basil.

Recipe courtesy of Happy Food (Hardie Grant) by Bettina Campolucci Bordi.

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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