Spanish Chickpea Balls

This fantastic little vegetarian tapas recipe is adapted from a simple recipe for traditional Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs). Chickpeas are an excellent substitute in things like meat balls as they retain good texture but combine together well to make perfect little balls, very similar to falafel.

Here minced chickpeas are combined with plenty of aromatic spices, fried till golden and cooked in a rich tomato based sauce; spicy, tasty and oh so very good. Tapas are ideal to serve when entertaining, especially for an informal and casual meal, where everyone can mingle and help themselves to little morsels of delicious food.

Try serving these Spanish Chickpea balls with slices of the Moroccan Pizza, Eggplant Balls and platters of olives or dips for a great Tapas feast. Alternatively serve the Chickpea Balls with Spanish rice for a tasty and filling meal. Easy to prepare and simply delicious these Chickpea Balls are simply awesome 🙂

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Spanish Chickpea Balls
Preparation time: 45mins (+ 30min chill time) // Serves 4 (as a main w/ rice) 4-6 (as a Tapas)

for the Chickpea Balls

  • 425g (15 oz) chickpeas (cooked or tinned)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1/3 cup fine wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • free-range egg, lightly beaten (omit if vegan and substitute with extra olive oil)

for the sauce

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • 300g (10½ oz) ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ cup fresh parsley &/or coriander, roughly chopped

Mince the chickpeas in a food processor or by hand until soft, make sure to retain texture, do not process or mash them to a pulp, you want to still be able to see small chunks of chickpea.

In a large bowl combine the minced chickpeas with the garlic, lemon zest, bread crumbs, spices and egg if using; use your hands bring the mixture together adding the olive oil a little at a time until the mixture starts to come together to form a mass. Depending on the chickpeas you use the mixture may be a little dry, add a little lemon juice if you desire to get the right consistency.

Once the mixture is moist and combined roll tablespoons of mixture into balls. For best results refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes or so before frying.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a good sized heavy based frypan. Over a medium heat cook the balls in two or three batches, tossing in the pan occasionally until golden all over. Set the cooked chickpea balls aside on paper towel.

To make the rich tomato sauce add 1 tbs of olive oil to the same pan; add the onion and cook over a medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the wine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Let the sauce simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

Add the cayenne and peas, stir to combine, add the chickpea balls and allow to gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly and flavours are rich and spicy. Remove from heat and toss through chopped herbs.

Serve the Spanish Chickpea Balls as a tapas or with Spanish Rice for a main meal.

This recipe was adapted from Albondigas found in Cooking Spanish published by Murdoch Books.

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