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Meatless Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce

If you're eating for gut health, you (and your microbes!) will love this plant-based take on rich, saucy meatballs. They’re incredibly tender and full of flavor, and provide 15 grams of fiber per portion.

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Meatless meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (about 14 ounces/400 g), diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, preserved in oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (60 g) rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds
  • Scant ½ cup (10 g) basil

Tomato sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, preserved in oil
  • Half a 14.5-ounce (411 g) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • Pinch of salt

Extras (optional)

  • 1 1/3 cups (40 g) spinach
  • Probiotic Yogurt or Parmesan


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the meatballs, warm a large frying pan over medium heat, add the oil, then the eggplant, onion, garlic powder, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt, and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, until starting to color.
  3. Place the oats and flaxseeds in a food processor and blend to form coarse crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Place the sautéed mix, along with the basil, in the food processor. Combine roughly.
  4. Transfer to the bowl with the crumb mixture, stir to combine, and leave in the fridge to thicken for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the fridge and roll into golf ball–size “meatballs” (makes around 12) and place on the prepared baking sheet, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. Warm a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the diced tomatoes, basil, and salt. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  7. Serve the meatballs on a bed of spinach, if desired, and topped with the tomato sauce and yogurt, if you like.


  • Spice things up by adding half a chile to the sauce.
  • For vegans: Use vegan Worcestershire sauce, or replace with barbecue sauce, and use vegan yogurt and cheese, or omit them, for serving


  • Garlic has been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years, and now we have the science to back it up. Trials have shown that garlic can have positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol management. And what about its flu-fighting power? There have been some quality trials to support this, too.


Recipe creator and Love Your Gut author Dr. Megan Rossi writes about how plant diversification—and working up to eating 30 different plants a week—can greatly improve gut health. Read her article here.

Excerpted from Love Your Gut: Supercharge Your Digestive Health and Transform Your Well-Being from the Inside Out © Megan Rossi, 2019, 2021. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available everywhere books are sold.