Polpette (meatballs) with Pomodoro Sauce – Nadia

Recipe by Nadia Fragnito of The Vegan Italian Kitchen.


Walnut Polpette

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 tablespoon ‘beef’ style stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • few drops of liquid smoke
  • handful of fresh parsley


Pomodoro Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 700g tomato passata
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • few basil leaves (optional)




In a food processor, pulse walnuts and bread briefly.

Add remaining ingredients and process until it begins to resemble the texture and size of mince. With the processor still running, pour in 1/4 cup of water. The mixture should now be moist and malleable.

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180C.

Roll the mixture into balls the size of a walnut shell and place on a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 25 minutes and carefully turn over half way through.

Meanwhile, make the pomodoro sauce.

Pomodoro sauce

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over a low-medium heat and add the garlic. Turn down the heat. Allow the garlic to infuse for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, ensuring it doesn’t brown.

Stir through the passata, salt and basil leaves. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once out of the oven, drop the polpette gently into the pomodoro sauce and simmer on low for 5 minutes so the polpette soaks up the liquid.

Remove from the heat and stir through your favourite pasta or enjoy on their own as a side or starter dish.

Polpette (meatballs) are traditionally made with ground meat. Of course, you could use a store-bought vegan mince, but I love the rich and meaty texture of walnuts.

Not only are these polpette simple to make, they’re also nutritious and oil-free.

You will need a food processor or high-powered blender. You can purchase liquid smoke at most gourmet grocers and vegan food stores.

These can easily be made gluten free – simply replace with slices of your favourite gluten free bread or breadcrumbs.

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