Comfort Pasta: Conchiglie With Potatoes, "Meatballs" and Spinach

Quick, think of a dish more comforting than a big plate of pasta with chunky meatballs, golden potatoes and crunchy, verdant spinach, all of it shot through with the husky scent of rosemary.

You couldn’t, could you, because your brain was busy working up a craving for all that goodness I conjured up for you. Well, don’t worry, because I’ve got the recipe right here right now.

But first, here’s some news. I start a new job next week and I am terribly excited. Not just because the new job is terrific, but also because my new office is smack-dab in downtown DC so I can finally give up my car for the Metro, freeing up my eyes for something more fun that traffic lights. Books.

As convenient as the car is, I love the fact that I can read on the train: something I struggle to make time for in my super-busy day. Right now,  I juggle a book on my bedside table with one — or two — on my phone, and I read them whenever I can grab a minute. It works, but I kinda miss the whole idea of relaxing with a book for any length of time. Of course, relaxing during a crowded rush-hour commute might sound a little strange, but I’m hopeful. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Back to the recipe, I came up this pasta Friday night because I was craving something really substantial yet really healthy AND really quick to prepare. Like I’ve told you before, most of my dishes are born of stuff I already have on hand and this time I was lucky: I had picked up a bag of delicious meatless meatballs at Trader Joe’s the week before, I had some beautiful golden potatoes and whole-wheat pasta sitting in my pantry, and some fresh baby spinach that was begging to be used. I also have some aromatic rosemary growing in a pot, and given what a perfect match this savory herb is for both potatoes and meat (or meat substitutes), I knew I had a winning recipe before I’d even started.

This is a very versatile dish. The meatless meatballs add a hefty protein hit, but if you don’t want to use them you can substitute with some roasted eggplant or mushrooms. You could add some chickpeas and roasted walnuts to the pasta for protein.

I hope to find the time to continue blogging as I transition to my new job. But as always, it will only be when I have something great enough to share. For now, here’s the recipe for this soothing dish that tastes wonderful warm or at room temperature. Enjoy, all!

Pasta with Potatoes, “Meatballs,” and Spinach


One 32-ounce box of wholegrain pasta (I used whole-wheat conchiglie or shell pasta, but you could try any other pasta shape). Cook the pasta in salted water per package directions.

About 24 meatless meatballs (I used the ones from Trader Joe’s. Feel free to replace with some roasted eggplant or mushrooms and add some boiled chickpeas and walnuts for protein)

5 cups baby spinach

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss the potatoes with 1 tsp dried rosemary and salt and black pepper to taste and spray with some oil. Bake in a 400-degree oven about 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp chopped, fresh rosemary

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and add the meatballs. Saute until they are browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same saucepan, saute the garlic until it starts to turn golden. Don’t let it burn. Add some ground black pepper, salt to taste, and finally the baby spinach and turn over a couple of times so the spinach begins to wilt.

Place the cooked pasta in a bowl. Add the potatoes, wilted spinach and garlic, browned meatballs, rosemary, salt to taste, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Toss together and check the seasoning.


(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Good luck with the new job and congrats on the new car-less commute. I LOVE commuting by public transport- so many possibilities: knitting, reading, people watching!
    Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs are a freezer staple for me too, I often use them as koftas in a rich coconut or cashew based curry.

  2. Cat says

    That sounds fantastic! I don’t get off the island much, so I think some meaty cremini mushrooms instead of the meatballs. But, I’m growing rosemary in a window box to save me the trudge to the back garden when I’m in a hurry fixing dinner, so I am so up for recipes using rosemary. Congratulations on the new job. Mass Transit is a GOOD thing. Personally, I commute on foot, being a mere two miles from work in a semi-rural area.

  3. SS says

    Congrats on the new job. I do alot of reading on my commute as well…it’s great. I’m always looking for book suggestions so if you come across anything good, please share!

  4. says

    I used to love commuting by train when in Mumbai, the books were my favorite part of the long ride. Congrats on the new job. I have to look for these meatballs on my next visit to TJ’s, they look yumm! Love this dish!

  5. sheela says

    Hey Vaishali,

    I am so excited to tell you that I made “crispy potato vadas” turned out so yummmm!!!
    I had bookmarked it long back but could never give it a shot. I try and avoid deep frying recipes as much as possible ever since I am on the right side of 30h’ :) to be kinder to my waistline… But this recipe of your aunt is simple, quick to make and delishhhh!!!
    Thanks!! More when I experiment.


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