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RECIPE: Walnut polpette - better than meatballs

Updated: May 8

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. And as a bonus, they are both delicious and nutritious!

bowl of walnut polpette in pomodoro sauce with basil

Walnut Polpette with Pomodoro Sauce

Makes approximately 15 polpette balls


Walnut polpette

2 cups walnuts

2 slices seeded bread (or your favourite bread - slightly stale is best)

1 tablespoon vegan 'beef' style or vegetable stock powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

¼ cup water

a big handful of fresh parsley

dashes of liquid smoke (optional)

Pomodoro Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil (or a very large glug)

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

700g tomato passata or crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

few basil leaves (optional)



Into a blender or food processor, pulse walnuts and bread briefly.

Add remaining polpette ingredients except the water and process until it begins to resemble mince. Now with the blender still running, pour in the water. The mixture should become moist and malleable.

Roll the mixture into balls the size of a walnut shell (or slightly larger if you like) and place on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 25 minutes. Turning over carefully half way through.

Alternatively to baking, shallow fry the polpette in oil until brown. This gives you a more succulent polpette, rather than the healthier, slightly drier, baked version.

Meanwhile, make the pomodoro sauce.

Pomodoro sauce

In a medium saucepan, add the oil and garlic, and cook over a low-medium heat until it begins to sizzle and soften, but ensuring it doesn't brown.

Immediately stir through the passata or crushed tomatoes, salt and basil leaves. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a dash of water if it dries out a little.

Once out of the oven (or after frying in pan) stir the polpette gently through the pomodoro sauce and heat for a couple of minutes toa allow the polpette to soak up some of the liquid.

Remove from the heat and serve with some fresh crusty bread, or stir through your favourite pasta (just don't tell the Italian food police, who generally serve their meat separate to the pasta!).


These can easily be made gluten free - replace with slices of your favourite gluten free bread/breadcrumbs. And for a completely oil-free dish, cook polpette in the pomodoro sauce without the olive oil.

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