Spicy Chickpea Meatballs in Italian Tomato Sauce

Day 4: Gourmet Garden Blog Off

Now don’t be put off by the thought of chickpeas. The humble legume can be quite versatile and it’s so good for you; packed with fibre and a fantastic source of iron.

I’m not joking when I say my eyes rolled and my toes curled when I tasted this dish. It was divine – note to self: make twice as much – lunch tomorrow.


The chickpea meatballs had a lovely earthy nutty flavour that complemented the light seasoning of the garlic, onion and chilli. They were incredibly easy to make and the fact that they’re cooked in the oven was a big bonus as I didn’t have to keep an eye on them on the stovetop. Well, that and the fact that it keeps the fat content down because there’s no additional oil required.

The tomato sauce was gorgeous. Slightly tart with the tomatoes and red wine vinegar, it complemented the meatballs perfectly. The herbs from the Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs were perfect – a touch of rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme was just what the sauce needed to bring it to life. And no chopping!

I served this dish with zucchini ribbons as I think it would have been too heavy with pasta or couscous. The zucchini also added a lovely moisture to the dish and carried the flavours of the chickpea meatballs and tomato sauce well.

All in all it was an absolute success and I’ll be making it again and again and again…. As for the rest of the family? They were a little dubious about the whole chickpea thing but were pleasantly surprised. I think I could have said we were having meatballs and they wouldn’t have known the difference, they were that good.

Spicy Chickpea Meatballs in Italian Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

Chickpea Balls

1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp Gourmet Garden Garlic
½ tsp Gourmet Garden Mild Chilli
2 cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Italian Tomato Sauce

1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
1 large garlic clove, peeled and bruised
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 large zucchini

Heat oven to 180°c and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Heat non stick frypan on medium. Add oil, onion, garlic and chilli 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 into a food processor. Pulse until broken up but not smooth (the consistency of chunky breadcrumbs). Mix chickpeas with onion mixture along with egg and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper and roll into balls (about 1 tablespoon 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 blend it 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 a minute before draining and divide among 4 bowls. Top with chickpea balls and tomato sauce.

Do you like chickpeas?

Indulge without guilt
Eat without deprivation
Cook great food even when you are on your own
Embrace food moods
Eat what you want



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