Meatless Meatballs Pasta By Chef Conor Spacey

A traditional dish with a planet-friendly twist, served at the TASS Sustainable School Food Summit during COP28 UAE.

This recipe is based on beans, pulses, and mushrooms. Part of the ‘Future 50 Foods’, these ingredients are recognised as being both healthy to eat and sustainable for our planet.

Requiring little water to grow, lentils have a carbon footprint 43 times lower than that of beef!


  • dried mushrooms 30g
  • 6 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tsp fresh thyme
  • 400g cooked green/brown lentils
  • 150g grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp djon mustard
  • 100g black beans, roasted
  • 5tbsp chickpea flour
  • 300g butterbeans
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 700ml passata
  • 500g fresh tomatoes
  • 500g cowpea pasta


  1. Cook Pasta as pre instructions,

  2. Tomato Sauce:

    Roast tomatoes and garlic.

  3. Heat oil fry off roasted garlic and add the roast tomato and passata.

  4. Season to taste, loosen with mushroom liquid as required and finish with basil.

  5. Meatless balls:

    Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and chop, reserving the liquid to freeze for soups or stocks.

  6. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden and any water has evaporated. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 3 minutes. Tip into a mixing bowl.

  7. Add the rehydrated mushrooms, lentils, cheese, mustard and roasted black beans to the bowl and season. Stir to combine.

  8. In a food processor, whizz half the mixture to a purée, then combine with the rest of the mixture and the flour.

  9. Shape into balls and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  10. Heat a griddle or frying pan to medium, with the remaining oil cook balls for 3-4 minutes each side.

  11. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 200oC for 5-10 minutes. If you don’t want to use the oven, leave the burgers cooking over a low heat for a further few minutes each side.

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