Rachael Ray's Vegetarian Meatballs with Red Sauce

Thanks to frozen riced cauliflower and broccoli (or just good ol’ leftover veggies), meatless balls are possible in 30 minutes.
Publish date:
Spicy Meatless Meatballs with Fire-Roasted Red Sauce

Recipe by Rachael Ray

  • 6 to 8 as a starter or 4 as an entréeServings



  • 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts or sliced almonds

  • 4 cups (two 12-oz. bags) mixed frozen riced broccoli and cauliflower, thawed and drained; or 4 cups leftover cooked broccoli and/or cauliflower, blitzed in a food processor until finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 3 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. (1/3 palmful) dried thyme

  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 tsp. dried lemon zest

  • 1 tsp. (1/3 palmful) ground cumin

  • 1 tsp. (1/3 palmful) crushed red pepper

  • Cooking spray for spraying, or olive or canola oil for brushing


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 small onion, grated or finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper

  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

  • 1 can (about 14 oz.) crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

  • Hot sauce (such as sriracha or Chipotle Tabasco)


1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small skillet, toast the nuts over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Pulse into finely ground crumbs, but not into a paste. (You should have about 1 cup.)

3. Place the drained cooked broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the nuts, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Roll the mixture into balls about the size of a large walnut. Arrange on the baking sheet; spray with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil. Roast the meatballs, turning once, until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce heat. Let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Before serving, add a little hot sauce to taste.

5. Serve the meatless meatballs with the sauce for dipping or topping.