Meatless meatballs, SAY WHAT?! Hear me out ok. I love meat as much as you do, but I have a new found appreciation for cutting out meat most days of the week, and my body is thanking me. I would say it’s been about a year now that we have pretty much cut out meat during the weekdays. We first decided to do it just to see how many meatless dishes we could come up with that we actually liked – but then it turned into more than that. My body and digestive system felt less bogged down and our grocery bill wasn’t quite as hefty anymore which was an added bonus! These chickpea meatballs are great to add to your weeknight recipe rotation!
Don’t get me wrong, we still go bonkers over a fat juicy burger, a Sunday pot roast, or copious amounts of bacon during Saturday brunch. But for the most part, I love eating meatless during the weekdays and there’s so many fun alternatives to keep things interesting.
It would be hard for me to go fully vegan because I love cheese. I mean I LOVE CHEESE. As you can see from this recipe that I didn’t skimp on parmesan – but if you wanted to make this vegan you definitely could by using a cheese alternative and making a flax egg to bind the meatballs and not a real egg.
These chickpea meatballs can come together in a snap on a busy weeknight! I like to make my own tomato sauce, but you could easily use your favorite marinara to speed things up!
Keep in mind, these aren’t as dense as normal meatballs, so as you start eating them they will break up slightly. Don’t fret my friends – when that herby garlicky chickpea glory mixes with the rich tomato sauce and you scoop it up with a piece of crusty bread, you will be the happiest little chickpea in the house!
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 oz sun-dried tomoatoes
- large handful of chopped fresh herbs, I like to use basil and parsley for these
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- Crusty Bread - 1 slice saved for the meatballs
- 1/4 cup milk or dairy free milk
- Hefty sprinkle of salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 bulb of fennel, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Salt to taste
For the tomato sauce
- In a large skillet or pot, heat oil over medium high heat and cook onions and fennel for 5 minutes or so until they start to look translucent.
- Add in garlic and cook for another minute or two before stiring in the tomato paste. Pour in red wine and cook out for about a minute.
- I like my sauce blended and not too chunky, so I add in the crush tomatoes into a blender along with the onion fennel mixture and blend until smooth. Add it back into the pot to simmer and reduce over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until your meatballs are ready.
For the meatballs
- In your food processor or blender, pulse together chickpeas, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Keep pulsing (and scraping down the sides when needed) until smooth and combined. It doesn't need to be perfectly smooth though! There can be some large chunks of chickpea which is fine!
- Transfer mixture into a big bowl and add in your chopped herbs, egg, another pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Soak one slice of crusty bread in the milk and then tear into little pieces into the chickpea mixture. I prefer adding soaked bread instead of panko bread crumbs because it gives the meatballs a little more flavor and moisture!
- Mix everything in the bowl with your hands - really get in there! Form medium sized balls and set aside on a plate or tray.
- Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Gently place chickpea meatballs in the skillet to sear. Let sit for 2-3 minutes before carefully flipping to the other side.
- Gently add the meatballs to the warm tomato sauce. Garnish with extra chopped herbs, parmesan cheese, and serve with crusty bread!