Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chickpea Meatballs

There are a seemingly infinite number of vegetarian "meat"ball recipes out there.  What I like about this one is, it is made with mostly pantry staples (which makes it cheap!), it has lots of flavor, and it's quick and easy to put together.  The extra bonus?  They're good for you!  I made a quick and simple tomato sauce by caramelizing a few sliced shallots in some butter and pureeing it together with a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes and a little salt and tossed it with some whole wheat penne pasta. 

I always have a lot of dried beans on hand, so I used my pressure cooker to cook dried chickpeas (1 cup yields about 2 cups cooked), but canned ones would work just as well.  For those of you who don't have a pressure cooker, especially those who are frequent legume consumers, I would highly recommend the investment.  Not only will it eventually save you money (dried beans in the bulk section of any supermarket are way cheaper than canned beans and even packaged dried beans) but it also makes quick work out of any traditionally slow-cooked dish.

Chickpea Meatballs
makes about 16 balls

1 cup oats
1 roasted red pepper
3 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cumin
3 T olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add oats to a food processor and pulse until ground into a coarse flour.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine into a slightly chunky puree. 

Place breadcrumbs on a medium-sized plate.  Form chickpea mixture into two-inch balls and then roll the balls in the breadcrumbs.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake, flipping once, for about 30 minutes or until golden in color and firm.  Serve with pasta and tomato sauce or atop a simple salad.