Vegan meatballs with orzo

Chia seeds make these plant-based balls light and lovely


Photo: Lizzie Mayson

Inspiration for this magnificent recipe came from the queen of cooking herself, Nigella Lawson

Serves: 4
Prep: 15 mins + 10 mins soaking time

Cook: 1 hr 25 mins



20g flat-leaf parsley (including the stalks)

3 garlic cloves

2 tbsp chia seeds

600g plant-based mince

3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs

4 tbsp nutritional yeast or grated plant-based parmesan

2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp ground black pepper


1 small onion, finely diced

20ml olive oil

1 tsp sea salt flakes

250ml plant-based white wine

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp light brown sugar

2 tbsp plant-based butter

285ml cold water

250g orzo pasta

To serve

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Sprinkle of nutritional yeast or plant-based parmesan

Small bag of fresh rocket

Squeeze of lemon juice


Make the meatballs

  • Finely chop the parsley then peel and finely chop the garlic. Soak the chia seeds in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of cold water for about 10 minutes until it forms a gel.
  • Place all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands, being sure not to overmix, as it will make the meatballs dense-textured and heavy.
  • Pinch out pieces of the mix and form them into walnut-size balls, putting them on a clean plate. You should get about 20 meatballs.

Make the sauce

  • Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan that’s large enough to take the meatballs and pasta.
  • Add the diced onion with the salt and cook over a medium heat, stirring every now and again, for about 10 minutes until softened.
  • Add the wine and simmer for a further 10 minutes then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, chilli flakes, vinegar, brown sugar and butter. Fill both empty tins with the water, give them a good swill, pour into the pan, bring the sauce to a simmer, put the lid on and cook for 30-35 minutes.

Cook the meatballs

  • Drop the meatballs gently into the simmering sauce; bring back to the boil, turn the heat down again to a simmer, put the lid back on and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Tip in the orzo, stir gently and increase the heat to bring the mixture back to a bubble. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
  • Stir it occasionally throughout this time to make sure the orzo isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

To serve

  • Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, nooch and a handful of rocket, add a squeeze of lemon juice and tuck in.

Recipe adapted from BOSH! Meat: Over 100 Outrageously tasty recipes (HQ, HarperCollins)

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