Spicy chickpea meatballs and sauce

Spicy chickpea meatballs and sauce



Chickpea balls

  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 400g cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Italian tomato sauce

  • 1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 250ml (1 cup) stock, chicken, beef or vegetable
  • 2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano – whatever you have in the pantry) or 1 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and bruised
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 large zucchini


Heat oven to 180°C conventional or 160°C fan-forced and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Heat a non-stick frypan on medium. Add oil, onion, garlic and chilli (if using) with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes stirring frequently until onions are soft and translucent.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pat drained chickpeas dry and place in a food processor. Pulse until broken up but not smooth (you want the consistency of chunky breadcrumbs).  Mix chickpeas with onion mixture along with egg and breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper and roll into balls (about 1 tbsp per ball).  Place on oven tray and bake for 20 minutes.

While chickpea balls are cooking, place all sauce ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Discard garlic clove. You can choose to leave the sauce as is or puree with a stick blender for a smoother texture. It’s lovely either way.

Using a potato peeler, slice zucchini vertically into ribbons. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add zucchini. Cook for 30 seconds before draining and divide among 4 bowls. Top with chickpea balls and tomato sauce.

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Serving Suggestions


  • You can make these meatballs ahead of time and then add them to the sauce when you are about to serve.
  • These meatballs may be frozen after cooking so you could make a large batch and have them ready to drop in hot sauce while still frozen. They will defrost as you simmer them.
  • This recipe was created by Jay Rogers for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best recipe finder.

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