I love and adore whole grains. I’m hard pressed to think of a food group I’d crave more if I were stuck on a desert island (well, perhaps I’d choose veggies first—but it would be a tough call!). There are few whole grains I don’t like, and I try to use lots of them (especially ancient grains) in my cooking.
As someone who loves all things grainy, I find a lot of whole grain pasta to be tough and pasty—not how I love my pasta to be. Fortunately, I was introduced to rice pasta some years ago, and it’s now a favorite for when I’m looking for an alternative to regular pasta. Rice pasta has both whole grain goodness and a tender, authentic texture—the best of both worlds. It can be confidently served to vegans, gluten free eaters, and pasta lovers alike, which makes it a perfect dinner party or potluck food. It’s great, and I’m always on the lookout for standout new brands. My latest find is brown rice pasta from Jovial Foods.
I’m so glad that I found this brand. Jovial Foods was founded by a husband and wife team, Carla and Rodolfo. The company is known for its commitment to gluten free and Einkorn-based grain products, as well as organic tomatoes and high quality, extra virgin olive oil. I recently received a sampling of the brand’s specialty Italian foods, and I used them to create an authentic, comforting, crowd pleasing dish. What could be better than spaghetti and meatballs, veganized?
This recipe was a pleasure to make and eat, and Steven enjoyed it as much as I did. The base is simple: cooked brown rice spaghetti and a simple, 15-minute marinara sauce. The white bean balls, which are made with cannellini beans, quinoa, and walnuts, are what make it a little special.
To save time and the recipe easy for busy nights, try prepping the marinara or the bean balls in advance. I love the fact that the balls require no sautéing–just whip them up in the food processor and get started. An additional shortcut for the dish is to use your favorite store-bought brand of marinara sauce, which will save you the time of preparing your own (even though this particular marinara is nice and quick).
Spaghetti and White Bean Balls (Gluten Free)
For the Marinara Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup white or yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 28 ounces chopped peeled, or crushed tomatoes (this is 1 1/2 jars Jovial Foods crushed tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 2 teaspoons organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
For the White Bean Balls:
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 large clove garlic roughly chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 large sun-dried tomato halves about 1/2 cup, packed, soaked in hot water for about 20-30 minutes and chopped
- 1 cup cannellini Great White Northern, or navy beans
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano or two teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
For the Pasta Dish:
- 12 ounces brown rice spaghetti
- Chopped basil
- To make the white bean balls, preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until the walnuts have been ground up.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, beans, 1/2 cup of the quinoa, oregano, black pepper, and vinegar to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is uniform and well mixed, but the beans retain some texture. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the remaining 1/4 cup cooked quinoa. Mix everything together with your hands. Shape the mixture into sixteen 1-inch balls. Place the balls onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the balls are golden brown and crispy, stirring once halfway through. Set the cooked balls aside.
- To make the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for one or two minutes, or until the garlic has become fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, and thyme. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
- To prepare the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Divide the pasta into four bowls. Top each with about 1/2 cup of sauce, 4 bean balls, and a sprinkle of basil. Serve. Leftover bean balls (if you have any) will keep for up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge.
What a wonderful, homey meal. And if you happen to prepare it for one or two people, you can use leftover bean balls in salads.
In order to give CR readers a chance to sample Jovial foods directly, the Jovial company has generously offered one luck reader a package of Jovial products, including gluten free pasta, jarred tomatoes, and olive oil. The same foods that I’ve been lucky enough to try!
The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Enter below to win this taste of Italy!
That’s it for today, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with a wonderful new green recovery story.