This cheeky take on vegetarian spaghetti is from Molly Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range:
During my second year of college, I dated a vaguely macho Philly-based vegetarian who survived almost entirely on cheese and beer and Rita’s “wuhter ice”. We had met at a summer orchestra festival at the University of Maryland and bonded over spiking our slushies before rehearsals and eating cheese sandwiches from the hippie food co-op in the basement of the student union. When we returned to our respective cities at the end of the summer we did the duty of schlepping back and forth via BoltBus in the name of Young Love. (Which is a terrible idea because Philadelphia and New York are jusssst close enough that you think you can get away with a quick 12-hour round trip, but in practice that requires more sleep deprivation than is acceptable for a day of long rehearsals.) On my weekends in Philadelphia we’d usually play xylophone excerpts for each other, as he was always preparing for the next big orchestra audition, and I was still dabbling with the idea of taking some auditions. Then we’d venture off to Monk’s for a beer bought with Stoopie’s old ID, and a bucket of Belgian french fries. They were nice little adventures away from the City, because compared to New York, even just going to Philly felt rejuvenating and relaxing. But the best weekends were when we’d unwind at his parents’ house in the suburbs, which brought about the two main components of his legacy that remain in my life today: his dad’s wondrous latkes (see page 204) and his mom’s meatless meatballs.
This guy was a real curious type of vegetarian in that you’d rarely catch him eating fake meat or beans or vegetables, but his mom’s fake meatballs were the absolute
tits and everyone knew it. They were dense and flavorful and so perfect that if they
had been invented before actual meatballs, you’d think that actual meatballs were trying to impersonate them. Typically they were served at parties in red sauce with toothpicks as an appetizer, but I probably made a meal out of them on more than
In the years after our breakup, my desire to relive these balls eventually transcended any negative ex-y feelings and made the awkward Facebook conversation to acquire the recipe 100 percent worth it. There was no beating around the bush with formalities, I just dove into the trenches of ex-boyfriend territory, went for the meat, so to speak, and came back with this here recipe for you.
This version has been tweaked slightly from the original and includes my favorite way to turn the balls into a meal (with soft white spaghetti). But try stuffing them into a hoagie or putting them out in a slow cooker for a party, and see how many people can catch that they’re meatless.