Being gluten-free and averse to eating red meat means I had not had spaghetti and meatballs since I was a child. This realization motivated me to make a veggie “meatballs” for an impromptu dinner party. These were a big hit and were loved by the vegetarians and the meat eaters. They are pretty easy to make, super delicious and a great vegetarian alternative to the classic meatball.
The recipe below was adapted from this recipe by Mary Ann Esposito. I made a few substitutions and found this recipe to be extremely versatile, there are no real measurements needed.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small sweet red pepper
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small carrot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 TBSP fresh parsley
- 3 TBSPs olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs (I used gf panko)
- sea salt to taste
- Canola Oil for Frying (the recipe calls for 4 cups but I used much less, just coating the bottom of the pot)
- Optional for serving: fresh basil, freshly grated cheese
Note: I couldn’t find a key piece to my food processor so I grated the carrot, garlic and zucchini and chopped the red pepper, onion, garlic and parsley. I used a potato masher to squish the chickpeas. If you are using a food processor don’t forget to chop your veggies first.
Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor, transfer to a bowl and set aside (or use a potato masher to squish them up in a bowl).
Add the pepper, zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until the mixture looks minced (or finely chop/grate).
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and stir in the grated/minced vegetables; cook until softened. Cool for about 5-10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the chickpeas. Add the 1/2 cup grated cheese (optional), parsley, salt (or other seasoning) and one egg, mix well (If mixture seems dry you can add another egg).
With wet hands form 1 inch balls and set aside.
Beat the remaining two eggs in a bowl and place the bread crumbs on a plate.
Coat each ball in egg then in bread crumbs and place on a dish. When all the balls are coated, heat oil in a heavy duty pot.
Fry the balls a few at a time until golden brown and use a slotted spoon to transfer them to absorbent paper to drain. If using less oil make sure to turn the balls so they are cooked on both sides.
I served these “meatballs” with my favorite corn spaghetti, basic tomato sauce and fresh basil. I could see these making great fillers in wraps or served on a salad. The recipe made more than enough for 5 of us, which means lots of leftovers on a non-dinner party night.
I would definitely recommend keeping this recipe around for a great vegetarian meal option.