Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce

Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce

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(33 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 cloves, 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, questions and tips

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Claire H's picture
Claire H
17th Jun, 2020
I made these today. I used string cheddar (vegetarian) and added blended carrots to the sauce. I then served with cous cous. It went down well, even my 4yr old like the meal! It's also good as you can make earlier in the day and pop in the oven when you're ready.
bethbiscuits's picture
23rd Apr, 2020
These are a firm family favourite in my household, really simple to make and healthy too! I make extra balls put them in the fridge, really tasty to have as a lunch or light snack with a bit of mayo
13th Aug, 2019
I made these tonight and they were delicious! I used a basic tomato sauce recipe and cheddar cheese. Would definitely make it again especially for my daughter who doesn't eat meat.
jo_ce2001's picture
1st Jun, 2016
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.
6th May, 2015
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
26th Jul, 2013
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 :)
8th Apr, 2013
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 ;)
27th Feb, 2013
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.
11th Sep, 2013
Vegetarians eat dairy.. Vegans do not.
30th Jan, 2013
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!


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