Saucy Vegetarian Meatballs

Cauliflower, mushrooms, bulgur and seasonings combine to form the base of this healthy vegetarian meatball recipe. A quick homemade tomato-basil sauce replaces the traditional marinara to save sodium. Serve over whole-wheat spaghetti with a green salad.

Saucy Vegetarian Meatballs
Cook Time:
45 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
4 meatballs & 3/4 cup sauce each


  • Olive oil cooking spray

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower

  • 2 cups finely chopped mushrooms

  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated, divided

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided

  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided

  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 cups cooked bulgur

  • cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 (28 ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, mushrooms, half the garlic, 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes. Add bulgur, cheese and egg and stir to combine.

  3. Form the mixture into 16 balls (about 1/4 cup each) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake until lightly browned and firm, 20 to 25 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and1/4 teaspoon salt with tomatoes and crushed red pepper in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Serve the meatballs with the sauce, sprinkled with basil.


Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate the unbaked meatballs and tomato-basil sauce separately for up to 1 day. Reheat the sauce while the meatballs bake.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

350 Calories
18g Fat
34g Carbs
13g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 350
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 13g 25%
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 52mg 17%
Vitamin A 1988IU 40%
Vitamin C 42mg 46%
Folate 66mcg 16%
Sodium 484mg 21%
Calcium 100mg 8%
Iron 6mg 31%
Magnesium 51mg 12%
Potassium 1030mg 22%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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