Noodles are dressed in spicy tomato sauce and served with avocado and vegan black bean meatballs in this flavorful southwestern-inspired twist on an Italian classic.
The first time I tried cooking with hot peppers, I destroyed my face. Destroyed, as in, completely wrecked it for a period of about four hours. Some of you are shaking your head, feeling my pain. Some of you are confused. Some of you just decided I’m disgusting. Let me elaborate.
The juices in hot peppers will burn your skin. That’s bad news. The even badder news is that they’ll really burn your eyes and other mucous membranes. Also, it can take a few minutes for the skin burning to become noticeable, so if you start to get the sniffles from hot pepper fumes or your eyes start watering from that onion you chopped, and then you go and touch your eyes or nose, you’re going to destroy your face. It’s just awful, and can put a huge damper on an otherwise delightful meal.
Keep what I just told you in mind when you make this, because I’m about to ask you to grind up some jalapeño peppers in your food processor, and then stick you hand in there and roll it around.
I kind of forgot that my meatball mixture had hot peppers in it when I made this. I know, how could I forget something like that? It can happen, especially when you’ve got a multi-part meal in progress and are stopping every so often to memorialize the recipe in a notebook.
I was about halfway through rolling my meatballs when I had that “oh &%*!” moment. Whether it was because my peppers were super mild, or because I washed and gloved my hands in time to escape the hot pepper juices, I was able to avoid any serious damage this time around. In turn, I was able to enjoy a tasty and pain-free dinner. Score.
I got the idea for black bean meatballs the last time I made black bean burgers. They’re essentially mini rolled-up versions of black bean burgers, which are great, but I thought they might be a little weird with marinara sauce. So we ended up here, with something resembling the delicious love child of bowl of chili and a plate of Italian spaghetti.
It’s hot, and comforting, and as spicy as you want to make it, and just about the perfect meal for the last days of summer, if you ask me.
Spicy Southwestern Spaghetti with Avocado & Black Bean Meatballs
For the Black Bean Meatballs
- 1/2 large red onion cut into 3-4 large chunks
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded (or not, if you like heat)
- 1 3/4 cups or 1-14 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1/2 large red onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp. agave or sweetener of choice
- 1-3 tbsp. cayenne pepper hot sauce or to taste
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 8 oz. dried spaghetti
- 1 avocado sliced
Make the Black Bean Meatballs
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place all ingredients into food processor bowl and pulse until well chopped and blended, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Put on some gloves. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls (you should get about 20) and arrange on baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, flipping once, about half way through.
Make the Sauce
Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, agave, hot sauce, oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Allow to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
Prepare the Pasta and Serve
When meatballs are about halfway done, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook according to package directions. Drain into a colander and return to pot. Toss with a few dashes of olive oil.
Divide noodles onto plates and top with sauce, avocado slices and black bean meatballs.