There’s obviously no meat in these meatballs, but I couldn’t bring myself to call them just ‘balls’. Even ‘vegetarian balls’ sounded a bit odd, so meatballs it is. But rest assured, these lemon and feta chickpea meatballs are entirely vegetarian.
I very rarely make my own meatballs – I cook with shop-bought soy-based meatballs every now and then (like in my spaghetti and meatballs casserole!), but don’t tend to make my own from scratch. And now I’m wondering why on earth not! They’re so easy.
These chickpea meatballs are entirely different from the soy-based ones, of course. I probably wouldn’t use these in the casserole (though I say everything’s worth a try once!). But, they’re just as good, if not better!
This time I served my chickpea meatballs on some spaghetti that I cooked really simply (the best way!). I haven’t included a recipe for this part of the dish, but if you’re interested, I just sautéed up a handful of kale in a dab of butter with a bit of chopped garlic, then tossed it through the pasta with a bit more feta and another squeeze of lemon. Simples! And it went perfectly with the meatballs!
By the way, if you’re thinking that these chickpea meatballs look a little dry, don’t be fooled by the crust on the outside – the middles are super creamy, and the lemon and feta keep everything nice and moist. If you’re still concerned, spoon a bit of bolognese sauce on top (sounds odd, but I tried it, and it works surprisingly well!).
I’m now imagining any number of variations of this recipe. The lemon and feta can be traded out for different flavour combinations – or, if you want to go a different route, you could shape them into patties and serve them as chickpea burgers instead. Prepare to see some variations on the theme!
- 1 slice small wholemeal bread
- 1 cup x 400g tin chickpeas 240g when drained, or ~1, drained
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 60 g crumbled feta cheese ~1/2 cup
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Black pepper
- Spray oil
Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F), and lightly spray a baking tray with oil.
Add the slice of bread to a food processor, and blitz into breadcrumbs. Add the drained chickpeas, and blitz again until smooth (or slightly chunky if you prefer).
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and add the chopped parsley, crumbled feta, and lemon juice, along with some salt and pepper. Mix well.
With clean hands, form the mixture into balls. I made 8, but this will depend on the exact size you make them.
Place the balls on the baking tray, and spray lightly with oil. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are crispy and fairly firm.