Easy Vegetarian No-Meatballs Recipe

Serve with a simple tomato sauce made by heating chopped tomatoes with a tbsp of olive oil, a little salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar for 20 minutes. Add some dried oregano and you're done. These are delicious with any pasta and of course, rice too...

Image by Holly Bell

Baby Lawrence is going through a furious stage. To me, it seems he's angry about the injustice of being 15 months old. Which is fair enough. Being 15 months old can be rubbish.

For example, from L's point of view:

  • Being made to share my favourite toys with Mummy's* friends kids, despite Mummy not sharing her coffee cup, telephone or handbag with the other Mummies.
  • Having to eat fruit at every meal and sometimes not just grapes or blueberries. Mummy does not snack on fruit at every meal, and sometimes disappears to the larder and comes back chomping on something mysterious and smelling of chocolate. Obviously Mummy is good at sharing so I must be confused.
  • Being repeatedly presented with 'age appropriate' toys. I'll say it one more time, just to be clear: I do NOT want to play with anything for the under 3's. My favourite toys are (in no particular order), Playmobil (especially the knights), Lego (NOT Duplo, see under 3's note), the game Operation (not to remove the body parts but to make the delightful buzzing sound every 3 seconds with the pincer things), plastic swords, TV remote controls (NOT special kiddie ones that don't work) and marbles. I also like sand but only if it's thrown across the lawn.
  • Sandwiches. I hate sandwiches and yet every few days Mummy puts them down on my high chair and announces in a sing-song voice 'look Lawrence, a sandwich! Shall we try it?' This fake optimism is tiresome. I wasn't born yesterday. A sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich. I would always rather have anything other than a sandwich. Why oh why does she keep producing them when she knows I know there are better things in the fridge?
  • Being removed from the bath. I love baths, they are warm and wet and fun and usually have two other people in them who look a bit like me but are bigger versions. There are lots of plastic toys too. Sometimes soapy stuff but I manage to avoid it mainly by protesting that I am missing out on plastic toy time. Being taken out of the bath is cruel and cold. Please end this torture.
  • Being put to bed twice a day for naps. Naps are a complete waste of my time. I could be learning to open the dishwasher, touching a hot oven, gnawing on a laptop cable or my favourite, throwing school books around. Naps interfere with this learning process and involve being imprisoned in a bed with bars. Bars! Barbaric.
  • Being repeatedly given beakers of milk, in varying stages of warmth. I have made it very clear with a simple shake of the head and verbal communication of 'no' that I no longer drink milk. I am not a baby. I am 1 now. Still, she persists. Idiot.
  • Having my nappy changed. It's undignified, it interferes with my learning (see above) and frankly, it makes me feel a bit of a baby. I would rather remove my nappy and run free.
  • Having to accompany Mummy on errands. This is boring. I do not have any interest in food shopping, visiting the post office, taking the other people who look like me but are bigger to a place called 'school' or visiting any of Mummy's friends who do not own plastic toys for the over 3's or remote controls I can play with. Luckily I have worked out that crying and rubbing my eyes tricks Mummy into thinking we need to leave for one of my naps. Ha! As soon as we're safely back home I find a second burst of energy. Crafty.
  • Being asked to let go of Mummy's leg when she is trying to go to the loo. This is unreasonable behaviour as I use her leg as a standing post when I tire of walking or crawling. She should know her entire reason for existing is to help me stand. Growling and crying (at the same time - yes I am that clever) seems to bring her back in line.
  • Being strapped into the car seat. This is irritating, especially given Mummy insists on a silly rear facing car seat that I've only seen babies use. She says it's safer but I think she's having one of those 'oh he's my last baby, let's keep him young' moments. As soon as I'm old enough I'm out of here. I'm not her baby, I am 1 and I don't care that she's 35 and I'm the last. It's not my problem that she isn't allowed another baby.

(*Yes, I have no idea about where the apostrophe goes here so have just added one and crossed my fingers).

Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available exclusively in Iceland stores and through their website).


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped (60g)
  • 1 small leek (about 100g)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 x 400g tin white kidney beans, drained (could also use butterbeans)
  • 1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained
  • 1o0g fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a large roasting tray with non stick baking parchment. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Fry until they start to colour (about five minutes), then add in the celery to soften it a little. Continue to fry for another 10 minutes on a low heat then remove and allow to cool a little.

Place the mushroom and celery mixture into a food processor and blitz until fine. Then add the (raw) leek, chilli, black pepper, salt, parmesan and garlic and blitz again until the mixture is very fine. Add the beans, lentils and breadcrumbs and blitz again, this time not quite as long. You want a bit of texture to the no-meatballs.

Use your hands to form the mixture into balls. I managed 37 but they were quite small. Place in the roasting tray so they're not touching each other and bake for 25 minutes until starting to brown.

Serve with a simple tomato sauce made by heating chopped tomatoes with a tbsp of olive oil, a little salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar for 20 minutes. Add some dried oregano and you're done.

These are delicious with any pasta and of course, rice too.

Before You Go

Go To Homepage