Spaghetti and ‘meat’ balls

Mozzarella-stuffed “meat” balls

plus homemade tomato sauce from garden veggies

plus hot pasta

equals one of the heartiest meatless meals I’ve had in a long time.

This is actually a Rachael Ray recipe from Food Network that calls for 1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin, but we substitute Gimme Lean meatless ground beef in the recipe. I also used my own sauce because I had just made a big batch the other day. AND, the best part is the addition of tiny cubes of mozzarella cheese inside each meatball.

So here’s the meatball recipe, and feel free to use whatever meat or meatless substitute you prefer:

1 tube Gimme Lean meatless ground beef
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (when I realized we were out I just toasted two slices of wheat bread and grated them)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Dash of salt and pepper
1/4 pound mozzarella cheese cut into 1 centimeter cubes

Combine all ingredients except mozzarella in a big bowl and squish it all together with your hands. Roll meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, then flatten them out, drop in a cheese cube, and reroll them into round shapes.

Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook a few meatballs at a time, until they get brown and crispy on the outside. If you’re using real meat, you might need to test one to make sure they’re getting done on the inside. Then transfer them to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.

While you’re cooking the meatballs, boil your spaghetti noodles.

When all the meatballs are done, drain off the oil. Dump in your sauce (the equivalent of a jar of spaghetti sauce) just to heat it, and then add all your meatballs back into the warm sauce. If you had any leftover mozzarella cubes, sprinkle them on top and let them melt down. Spoon over noodles and serve.

It’s so fun to cut into the meatballs and discover that oozy bit of cheese inside. And while I don’t like to rely on fake meat products too much in my diet, they are great to use every once in a while.