These chickpea balls are dreamy when paired with our favourite classic tomato sauce, and dressed up with goat cheese or feta to serve. First enjoyed while on holiday in London, we were so happy to find a fabulous version of this recipe by UK blogger Sarah Jackson online.
Chickpea, Ricotta, and Spinach Meatballs in Tomato Sauce:
~ from sjhealth.co.uk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped baby spinach (about 3 large handfuls)
1/2 finely chopped white onion
2 1/2 cups cooked GRAIN Kabuli Chickpeas
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup goat cheese or feta to garnish (optional)
1/3 cup fresh parsley or basil for serving
3-4 cups Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce
Marcella Hazan's Famous Tomato Sauce:
(3) 14 oz. cans peeled plum tomatoes, plain
1/2 cup butter (yes, you read that right!)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp sugar, or to taste
Prepare a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper and heat the oven to 350F. Using a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until they are crumbled, but not puréed.
Place the chopped spinach, oregano and cheeses in a bowl and mix well. Add the whisked eggs, crumbled chickpeas, and enough breadcrumbs to bind it all together, roughly 2 cups should do it, leaving some left over for rolling. Combine well.
To make the balls, take roughly a tbsp of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Next, coat the ball in some of the remaining breadcrumbs and place on the baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, and then drizzle with olive oil. Put the trays in the oven for about 45 mins, or until the balls are golden on top, being careful to turn them every 15 minutes, so they bake evenly.
While the balls are baking, make the tomato sauce.
Put a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, butter, onion halves, salt, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, and then lower the heat. Crush the tomatoes lightly with the back of a spoon as they cook, and stir occasionally. Simmer very gently for 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat appear on the surface of the tomatoes. Remove and discard the onion.
Serve the balls in the sauce by heating about 3 to 4 cups of the sauce in a large skillet or casserole dish. Arrange the balls on top of the sauce, adding crumbled goat cheese or feta if using. Bake until heated through. Serve hot, with fresh parsley or basil to garnish.