Polpette (meatballs) with Pomodoro Sauce - Nadia


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. Recipe by Nadia Fragnito of The Vegan Italian Kitchen.


Nadia Fragnito

Ciao, I’m Nadia and I’m a vegan Italian recipe creator and author of Discovering Vegan Italian. I’m here to help you embrace life the Italian way through delicious recipes and the joy of cooking.

But what I’m really passionate about is showing you how you can be vegan and honour your food traditions at the same time! 

A little more about me… 

I first went vegan in 2001 and I love sharing my passion for veganising traditional dishes through my blog and social media pages. I have shared my love of veganising Italian food as a guest presenter on Channel 10s Freshly Picked with Simon Toohey and the SBS reality TV cooking show, The Chefs’ Line. 

When I’m not whipping up fresh pasta or running a cooking class, I’m developing recipes and writing, with articles featured in Nourish, Ramona, Vegan Lifestyle Magazine, The Australian Vegan Magazine and Vegan Travel. I hope you find some inspiration in articles such as these Cooking with Love.

I have a background in theatre, acting and creative writing. I’m a published playwright and winner of Exit Theatre Company’s 2014 script writing competition, which went on to be directed by Logie award winning actor, John Wood in 2017. You can find the The Colour of Fire here.

I just love poetry and have published my own anthology, Winter’s Last Kiss. You can see a sneak peek or purchase a copy here.

I studied acting at The Victorian College of Arts, Flinders University and National Theatre Drama School and have performed in theatre and film and won the Theatre Shorts Best Actor award for my original monologue, a symbolic piece exploring the connection between human genocide and mass animal slaughter. You can see my performance here, The Way Things Are.

My love of Italian food, travel and culture arises from my heritage; my father was born in the small southern Italian town of Molinara, Benevento. 

Let’s keep creating connections and joyful experiences through food. The vegan Italian way.   

Keep cooking with love,

Nadia xo

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