Tofu & Courgette Vegan Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

We LOVE Tofu…..

There’s so much you can do with it. It’s a really versatile food which can serve as a great meat substitute to emulate your all-time favourite dishes. 

And who doesn’t love meatballs with a tasty sauce over some spaghetti! 

So, intrepid recipe creators that we are, we came up with this delicious recipe.  Well, Vanessa did, inspired by Instagrammer and Blogger Ida Hemmingsson-Holl. Read on to find out how she did it! 

The tofu balls are bound with chia seeds, which binds them just like you would with eggs. Alternatives like linseed (also known as flax) would work just as well, but chia seeds also give them a little extra crunch and firmness which I really love. There are a range of veggies you could use in these ‘meatballs’; Ida used beetroot, I use courgette, but nothing to stop you using grated carrot, aubergine or even sweet potato. You can get as creative as you want.

Make sure you’re using firm tofu, not silken  (the really firm stuff – in the UK, the brands Tofuu, Cauldron and Taifun all have the perfect texture) The firmer tofu helps give the ‘meatballs’ that chewy texture.

I like to roll the ‘meatballs’ in almond flour which gives them a delicious crunchy coating, but if you have nut allergies, you can always roll them in breadcrumbs / gluten-free breadcrumbs.

The spicy tomato sauce is one of my go-to sauces for any recipe. It just goes well with any pasta or rice dish, and is super quick! It uses fresh tomatoes, but tinned tomatoes will also work just fine.  In fact, in the photos we used passata, as we had somehow forgotten to buy fresh OR tinned tomatoes (whoops)  You can also change out the spices and add / take out anything you want – you could add saffron, cumin or any other herb like rosemary. Whatever your taste buds are asking for!

I’ve made this dish to be like a traditional meatball and spaghetti dish but you could just as easily make the ‘meatballs’ into patties and pan them, burger style. 

Top tip! Double the mixture- then freeze it, either not made up, so you can defrost and make something a little different. Or pre-made into balls or patties, which you can cook from frozen- perfect for busy days when you need a quick, tasty meal. 


Tofu and courgette ‘meatballs’ with spicy tomato sauce
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Who doesn't love meatballs with tasty sauce on spaghetti! These are made kindly, with yummy vegan ingredients. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, Vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Vanessa
For the Tofu & Courgette Balls
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 5 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for making the mix
  • 350 ml sunflower oil for frying ‘meatballs’, use more if necessary
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 regular-sized courgettes shredded / grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 200 g firm tofu mashed up with a fork
  • 75 g chickpea flour
  • 30 g almond flour (for coating
For the spicy tomato sauce
  • 8 fresh tomatoes / 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp coconut palm sugar or sugar of your choice
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp mix herbs
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste
For the Tofu Balls
  1. Soak the chia seeds in the water. By the time you come to use these they should have created a jelly
  2. Crush the garlic, grate / shred the courgette and mash the tofu. Leave aside.
  3. Add half the olive oil to a frying pan on a low heat. Then add the garlic, thyme and courgette. Fry for 5 minutes whilst stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the salt, pepper and tofu to the frying pan, and fry for a further 5 minutes, forcefully mashing it all together.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chickpea flour and chia-gel. Continue to mash until you have firm consistent texture which you can form into meatballs. This may require extra chickpea flour or water to get the right consistency.
  6. Spread the almond flour on a plate. Form small round meatballs with your hands and roll them in the flour until fully coated, then set them aside on a plate.
  7. Put the balls in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up further.
  8. Add the sunflower oil to a pan (you may need to add extra so the oil covers the meatballs) and allow it to get to a medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry for a few minutes or until they are a golden brown colour.
  9. Serve on the spicy tomato sauce and your choice of pasta.
For the Sauce
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.
  2. Add the crushed garlic, herbs and spices and fry for a further minute.
  3. Blend the fresh tomatoes in a blender / food processor (skip this if using tinned) and add to the pan. Add the sugar and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve over Spaghetti or other pasta. 

Recipe Notes

Make a double batch of the tofu meatballs and freeze them, ready for a speedy mid week dinner. 


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