Vegetarian Zucchini Bolognese

I came across a vegetarian version of Bolognese that I’ve now made a few times over the past weeks. Spaghetti has now become one of my favourite meals of the week. I would call this an Italian version of a Manchurian! It can be baked, shallow fried (I have used an appam pan here) or deep fried depending on the level of healthiness you want. I personally love the basic tomato sauce with fresh basil adding flavour that I use for all my arrabiata pasta bases. Adding another vegetable adds to my five-a-day.

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Total cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 2


For Zucchini Balls:

ingredients for zucchini balls
  • 1 medium zucchini (grated/ finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed egg (as a replacement for egg to bind)
  • 2 tbsp cheese (grated)
  • 2 tbsp coriander (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp olive oil to fry each zucchini ball

For Tomato Sauce:

ingredients for tomato sauce
  • 5 large tomatoes (puréed)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 green chilli (chopped) (optional)
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional)
  • 6-7 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 150 gms boiled spaghetti to serve


For Zucchini Balls

  1. Add salt to the grated/chopped zucchini and leave aside for 5 minutes to release the water.
  2. Transfer the zucchini mixture on a muslin cloth. If you do not have a muslin cloth, you can squeeze it in a strainer.
  3. Transfer to the squeezed zucchini to a bowl and add the cheese, coriander, bread crumbs, whole wheat flour, red chilli flakes, mixed herbs, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and mix.

4. Shape the mixture into about ¾ to 1-inch balls. You should be able to make about 10 in total. I weigh out the dough and divide my balls by weight to ensure they are even but you can do it by eye as well!

5. Heat the Paniyaram (appam) pan with ½ tsp oil in each hole. Note: If you are deep frying, fry them in batches until they turn golden and crispy. You can also bake them at 180 degree celcius for 20-25 minutes.

6. Once hot, cook the Zucchini balls on medium-high heat in each hole turning them around until they are evenly brown and crispy. This should take about 15-18 minutes for each batch.

7. Repeat until all the balls are cooked and keep aside to cool. Note: It is important that they are completely cool before adding to the sauce.

8. Repeat until all the balls are cooked and keep aside to cool. Note: It is important that they are completely cool before adding to the sauce.

For Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan.
  2. Once hot, add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli mix.
  3. Add salt and sugar to the mix and caramalise the onions on medium heat until they turn golden brown.

4. Add the puréed tomatoes with the salt, pepper, chilli powder.

5. Cook the mixture on high heat until the tomatoes have cooked and reduced by half. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

6. While this cooks, you can boil the spaghetti as per instructions on the pack.

7. Add the fresh basil leaves and vinegar, adjust the spices and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

7. Combine the boiled spaghetti, sauce and zucchini balls and enjoy!

spaghetti in bolognese sauce with zucchini meatballs

Hope you enjoy this!


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