Smoky Spanish “Meatballs”

Smokey spanish vegan, plant-rich tofu meatballs with yellow spanish rice and green beans

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This is a Variation on a Root Formula, a simplified recipe that shows which ingredients
are core and which can be changed to create different flavor combinations or use what you
have on hand. See our other variations at the bottom of the Root Formula page.

Smokey spanish vegan, plant-rich tofu meatballs with yellow spanish rice and green beans

Smoky Spanish "Meatballs"

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Yield: 6 people

Recipe Notes

We like these meatballs with smoked paprika-spiked, Simple Tomato Sauce, and yellow rice. If you’ve got a Perfect Pot of Rice (or part of a Pot of Rice), simply drizzle olive oil to coat in a large skillet, add a diced medium onion and sauté until tender. For four servings, add 3 cups of rice and a couple of teaspoons of turmeric and stir to heat through. For color and to complete the meal, throw in a handful of thawed, frozen green peas; heat through again, taste, adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper, and serve.
We like how Aleppo pepper offers flavor and subtle heat, but if you don’t have it, simply substitute 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes. And if you’re serving these balls to young children, you may want to leave out the pepper altogether.


  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained, patted dry, & crumbled (no need to weight it)
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon each: fine salt, Aleppo pepper, and fine granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, plus extra for sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra
  • 2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika


  • For the "meatballs": Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Start by whisking chia seeds and water so they have time to thicken up before you add them. Measure the remaining ingredients, including smoked paprika and parsley, in a large bowl; whisk thickened chia mixture and add to the bowl. Using hands, mix thoroughly to combine. Divide mixture into approximately twenty-four 2-tablespoon portions, rolling each into a ball.
  • Meanwhile, bring 2 tablespoons of oil in a large (12-inch) oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. When whisps of smoke start to rise from the pan, reduce heat to medium, add balls and cook until well browned on one side. Turn the balls over and continue to cook on the remaining side until well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until balls are firm, about 25 minutes.
  • For the sauce: Meanwhile, heat Simple Tomato Sauce and the 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika in a medium saucepan. Serve "meatballs" with sauce spooned over them.

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