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Chickpea Meatballs

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.

Serves 6


1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1 small sweet red pepper, seeded 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

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

Fine sea salt to taste

Canola Oil for Frying



Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

Add the pepper, zucchini, carrot, leek and garlic to the food processor and pulse until the mixture looks minced. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and stir in the minced vegetables; cook until softened. Cool about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables o the bowl with the chickpeas. Add one egg and mix well. With wet hands form 1 inch balls. Set aside.

Beat the remaining two eggs in a shallow bowl and place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.

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.

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 is featured on show 2222 – Antipasto Favorites / Antipasti Favoriti.


  1. Georgia's avatar


    When you mince the veggies in the food processor, there is a a great deal of liquid released. There should a step of squeezing the veggies in paper towels. Just squeezing against the side of the bowl released 2/3 cup of juice and the mixture was still too soft. I also made more of a pattie shape and dredged them in a little flour before the egg and breadcrumbs. Make sure to add enough salt and pepper. They are tasty and worth making.
  2. lucille's avatar


    Georgia, thanks that is good to know, I am surprised that Maryann did not say anything about there being some liquid They really do look good, and I love chick peas
  3. LORI's avatar


    has anyone tried to bake the chickpea meatballs?
  4. Lois's avatar


    I'd like to make these meatballs without frying. Thought I try to bake them - - any suggestions on temp & duration? Any help would be appreciated. (due to health reason, my challenge is to cook Italian food without bread, pasta or frying!)........... any comments welcome.
  5. Dane Allen's avatar

    Dane Allen

    I just tried this but I could not form balls since it was more like a batter , but I will not give up engineering a method to get mixture drier.. I put them in the hot oil in a pancake like form and tasty nonetheless, better tasting than meat
  6. Joanne's avatar


    Perhaps some of the trouble with this batter was bc let the mixture wasn't rolled when chilled. The directions don't state to do this, but MaryAnn did say on the show that it should be cooled. It's good to do that with anything--meatballs, risotto balls for arancini, and this too. When cold, it holds together better that way. I don't see anything wrong with adding more breadcrumbs to the mixture too, not just to the outside. It looked like MaryAnn used more than a 14oz can of chick peas, so the directions might need to change it to TWO cans. These look good; my son is vegetarian and this might work for him!
  7. Nancy's avatar


    i wanted to make my hamburger stretch farther, so I used chickpeas as filler. I processed about 1.5cups of chickpeas added it to 1 pound of ground beef, an egg, all my usual seasoning and then I boil them. I know it sounds weird, but I got the idea for boiling meatballs from Sandy Richards' cookbook "Life's on Fire". They are boiled for about 7-8 minutes and when the sauce is added (we love sweet and sour) no one knows they were boiled. In fact they are greasiness or burned bits. I supposed once they are boiled you could drain and brown in the oven, but I'm always too rushed for that!
  8. Marie's avatar


    I love these meatballs. I have made them a couple of times. I did add some breadcrumbs to the mixture. The next time, I will try to get some of the liquid out as suggested. One time I browned them in a skillet and then baked them for a while. I also baked them but they didn't get brown. In any event, they taste great. I have other of this woman's recipes and agree with her son.

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