Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce

Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce

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(19 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 20 mins


Serves 3
Vegetarians don't need to miss out on pasta with meatballs, with this no-fuss meat-free version

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal607
  • fat19g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs85g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre6g
  • protein30g
  • salt2.15g
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  • 2 slices white bread, crusts off and torn into pieces
  • 75g Parmesan, or vegetarian alternative, 50g roughly chopped and 25g grated



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 400g can chickpea, drained
  • 3 garlic clove, 2 roughly chopped and 1 crushed
  • 2 tsp dried oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • small handful basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 560ml jar passata with onions and garlic
  • 200g spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle


  1. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Whizz the bread and roughly chopped Parmesan in a food processor to crumbs, then throw in the chickpeas, roughly chopped garlic, half the oregano, a few basil leaves and some seasoning. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together, then add just enough of the egg while the motor is running to bind together. Shape into 18 small balls. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15 mins, turning halfway.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large pan, fry the crushed garlic in the olive oil for 1 min. Then tip in the passata, remaining oregano and some seasoning and simmer until the chickpea balls are ready. Cook pasta following pack instructions.

  3. When the chickpea balls are cooked, serve over the pasta, with the tomato sauce and the rest of the basil on top. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

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Comments (22)

jo_ce2001's picture

These were great, good consistency and with garlic pasata a really tasty sauce., only rating this down because I don't feel the garlic cooked enough and was quite strong. Yes, Parmesan isn't veggie but you can use alternatives as the recipe suggests. I'm not veggie but eat veggie a lot of the time and I also look for veggie recipes.

JulesyBaby's picture

Made these today but forgot the herbs - my bad! - so very bland. Not unpleasant, but bland. But definitely worth another go - next time with the herbs. I made each ball from 25g of mixture and there was exactly enough for four portions of four balls.

Fabulous41's picture

Made this the other night and it was fab!! I also made my own tomato sauce and served it with some spicy cous cous. Will definately make again :)

stormyraincloud's picture

Have made this several times now, and it has become a favourite, even with the fussy younglings. Delicious!
Made my own sauce though, could sneakily add more veg and blend it ;)

oscarsgrandma's picture

At least 4 people in the Comments have referred to Parmesan as being non-vegggie yet this recipe is still being promoted as suitable for Vegetarians! Does anyone from the BBC Food dept read this? Parmesan is made with ANIMAL RENNET.

tropic's picture

Vegetarians eat dairy.. Vegans do not.

fallella's picture

Tasted nice but I think the recipe should indicate what the consistency of the balls should be before putting them in the oven. I put a bit of flour in mine as they were quite sloppy and they turned out quite well, but I don't know if they were as intended!

lexy9uk's picture

Sounds lovely, will make this with cheddar as Parmesan is not vegetarian!

marffa's picture

surprisingly easy and quick to make. A really tasty dish that my meat-eating husband enjoyed too.

kgrattan32232's picture

Really tasty!! Didn't have basil leaves so added a some dried basil instead. Used cheddar as all I had. Pleasantly surprised that they were not in the least bit dry.

kirstensmith's picture

Sorry this one wasn't for me. Made it as my first vegetarian meal, a bit of an experiment. Really didn't like the texture and even though I added plenty of herbs, seasoning and garlic (and even onion) to the chickpea balls, I found them very bland. Thank god for the sauce!

jadeheathfield's picture

Chickpea balls were easy to make and very pleasant. Left out Parmesan as we're veggies. Found the passata to be a little bit too tomato-ey for our liking, but overall a very simple, filling veggie dish.

blackbird17's picture

Unbelievably quick to make and the mix is very easy to handle and shape. I modified the sauce a bit, but any decent tomato sauce will do. Served it with fusilli. Great for veggies and non veggies alike.

bbaker's picture

Quick and easy family lunch, especially with the chickpea balls prepared the night before. Softer and more moist than falafals with being baked and not fried. Will become a family regular, will try with other flavourings and sauces.
Ps for Edel - I buy Sainsburys basics hard cheese - not as flavoursome as parmesan but I use it all the time as it is veggie. Otherwise I use Bookhams.com for their veggie parmesan

edelnig's picture

What's the best alternative to parmesan, given that it's not a vegetarian cheese?

kate295's picture

I've made this recipe several times and I absolutely love it! It's so quick and easy to cobble together, the balls are really easy to shape and hold together really well. The only difference I make is to use thyme as a herb (only one in the cupboard but tastes great!) Any tomato sauce with it works fine, and I usually serve with fusilli pasta or cous cous. Even my carnivore loves this so I would recommend to everyone!

c_malcolm's picture

I was looking for something different to do with chickpeas and stumbled upon this recipe. I used normal cheese instead of parmesan as we are vegetarians and I also added some cayenne pepper to the chickpea mix. A definite hit!!

1flower1's picture

P.S I used ordinary hard goats cheese instead of parmisan. Really tasty.

1flower1's picture

Absolutly gorgeous. The balls are kinda melt in the mouth and although I thought the sauce was going to be bland I couldn't have been more wrong. Everything was just right. definately one to do again.

inathalie's picture

Well, they were quite dry, but apart from that I really enjoyed this veggie dish.
I served them with spaghetti pasta and classic tomato passata spiced with some herbs.


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