Chickpea Meatballs / Polpettine di Ceci

Mom had her clever ways to disguise foods we did not like, including these “meatballs” made with chickpeas. Her reasoning was that chickpeas were just as full of protein as other more expensive foods. These are really fabulous on their own as a hot antipasto or served over a bed of cooked spinach for a filling but inexpensive light supper.



  • 1 can chickpeas drained
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 1 leek (white part) cut into rings
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons Filippo Berio olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Canola Oil for Frying
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for topping
  • Ingredients


  1. Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Set aside
  2. Add the pepper, zucchini, carrot, leek and garlic to the food processor and pulse until the mixture looks minced.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and stir in the minced vegetables; cook until softened. Cool about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the chickpeas. Add the 1/2 cup grated cheese one egg and mix well.  (If mixture seems dry, add an additional egg or some water or broth.)  
  4. With wet hands form 1 inch balls. Set aside.
  5. Beat the remaining two eggs in a shallow bowl and place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.
  6. Coat each ball in egg then in bread crumbs and place on a dish. When all the balls are coated, heat 4 cups of oil in a heavy duty pot or a deep fryer to 375°F.
  7. Fry the balls a few at a time until golden brown and use a slotted spoon to transfer them to absorbent paper to drain. Serve warm.

This recipe was featured on Season 20 - Episode 2023.

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Marianne Maiolino


Would these meatballs hold up cooking in tomato sauce? Sounds wonderful.

Tony Mazza

Mary Ann, on the episode where you made these chickpea meatballs you put parmigiano reggiano in the mixture but it’s not listed in the recipe. I made them for dinner but made sure to add the parmaigiano reggiano, and they were delicious!


Mary Ann, I watched the episode of making chickpea meatballs and they looked great so decided to make them. When I make them, they are really wet and they fall apart when I form them into balls. Do you have any secretes to fix this? Could it be that I am not cooking the vegetables in a skillet long enough? How long should the vegetables be cooked in a skillet?

natalie b

The show had the chickpea “meatballs” dipped in eggs, then flour, and then the breadcrumbs. What is the best way to proceed here?

Paul Lally, Executive producer


Shape the meatballs, dip in egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. Mary Ann said “flour” when she meant to say “breadcrumbs.”




I’ve been baking my meat-meatballs on a rack in the oven to cut back on some fat. I’m sure the crispy, fried breadcrumb coating can’t be beat, but would I be able to bake these as a healthy alternative? If so, how long and at what temperature?

Robert greene

i tried your chickpeas meat ball and you got them jest right im a vegetarian and it was good to see you cook something i cod eat got Ange moor good recipes to sher

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