Do you also like to eat meatballs? But do you meanwhile also want to keep your meat consumption under control? Then we have a tasty and vegetarian alternative here: chickpea balls in bell pepper sauce. These vegetarian balls are very easy to make and taste delicious in this red pepper sauce. You can also serve them perfectly with puree or rice.
How to make chickpea balls in red bell pepper sauce?
Most probably you already realize that this light vegetarian lunch consists of two basic components: the chickpea sauce and the red bell pepper sauce. So we will explain how to make them in the next two paragraphs.
The chickpea balls
You may see great similarities between classic meatballs and this chickpea-based version. Only the main ingredient is of course completely different.
And that main ingredient are, of course, the chickpeas. We take pre-cooked chickpeas from a can or from a jar. If you work with dried chickpeas, you must of course prepare them first. You have to soak them first and then cook them. And especially the first, soaking, takes a lot of time. Later in this article you will find some links with tips for preparing dried chickpeas.
Stage 1: the blending part
But we start with a can or a jar of pre-cooked chickpeas. We open that and we drain the chickpeas over a sieve. We also rinse them well under cold water until this is clear. Then we put them aside and let them drain.
No meatball without a tasty onion in it. So here too we are going to mix an onion or a few shallots under the dough for our balls. Delicious seasonings! For that we classically remove them from the skin. Fine chopping is not necessary, because we will puree them together with the chickpeas in the blender. So cutting them into coarse pieces is more than sufficient.
And now it's blending time. The drained chickpeas and the shallots go together in the blender. And then we let the blender do its job until everything is ground into a puree. If necessary, you can stop in between and rearrange the mass at the edge, so that also the last particles are pureed well.
Stage 2: the handwork
Now we shift the chickpea mass into a mixing bowl. Don't put the blender away, as we will use it later for the peppers. Now we will add the other classic ingredients for balls to the mixing bowl: an egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. If you have turmeric at home, you can also add a tablespoon of it. I like doing that: on the one hand, the taste goes well with the chickpeas, and on the other hand, it also enhances the yellow color of the balls. Would you like to add other seasonings to your meatballs yourself? No problem! Parsley and/or coriander, for example, are also a very good choice. Let your inspiration run wild!
And then it's just mixing and kneading. Until we have a solid mass of the chickpea dough. Check that it is not too dry or too moist. In the first case you have to add some moisture, in the other case breadcrumbs are the solution.
So now we are ready to roll the dough into balls. Depending on the size you make them, you will normally get ten to fifteen balls from this volume. I scoop part of the mass with a dessert spoon and then roll it between my hands into a ball. And then we repeat until the entire chickpea mass has turned into balls. If you added turmeric, your hands will also look yellow. So wash the dishes before the whole kitchen is stained yellow.
Stage 3: frying the balls in a deep pan
Now it is time to fry the balls. For that we melt a good amount of butter in the pan. Alternatively, you can also use oil. But I'm just a butter fan. Already since I was very young. Once the butter is bubbling, we put the balls in the pan and fry them over a medium heat until they are seared on all sides.
Then we take them out of the pan and let them rest for a while. Soon another bath in the red bell pepper sauce will follow. But let us start making that now.
The red bell pepper sauce
The good thing is, we don't have a lot of cutting work to do. As we are going to reuse the blender. But first we have to roast the peppers in the oven.
Stage 1: roasting the bell peppers in the oven
But we start at the beginning. We can already turn on the oven to preheat to 180°C. And we prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. We then put our pieces of red bell pepper on top after we have chopped them coarsely. For that, we remove the inner part of the pepper and the green stem. We then roughly chop the remaining parts and place them on the baking tray. Now you can already season them with pepper, salt and some olive oil before roasting them in the oven for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, we prepare the seasoning of the red bell pepper sauce. We clean the garlic and remove the basil leaves from the stems. If you have fresh thyme, you can also zip the leaves off the stems. Otherwise you can use dried thyme and oregano. And we also open all the coconut milk can.
Stage 2: blending part two
Once the bell pepper has been roasted in the oven, you can transfer it straight into the blender. There you can add the coconut milk, thyme, oregano, basil and garlic. Feel free more or other spices if you want. But for me it was the perfect combination in this case. And now we can start blending for a second time Today. Until we have a red colored paprika-coconut milk sauce.
Stage 3: cooking in the pan part two
We also reuse the deep pan that is still warm from frying the chickpea balls. You see, we reuse our resources, which in turn saves washing up. On a not medium heat we bring the sauce to a boil. We add some olive oil for taste. We add extra flavor and color to the sauce with paprika powder and possibly also tandoori spices.
Once the sauce is boiling, the chickpea balls can also be added to the bath. And then everything can simmer for another five minutes. Meanwhile, the sauce reduces and thickens a bit. In addition, the flavors integrate and the balls become thoroughly warm again.
Finally, we first scoop the balls into deep plates. And then we pour the roasted pepper sauce over them. You can then finish the dish with a snippet of chives or a tuft of parsley. And so our chickpea balls in paprika sauce are ready to be served and enjoyed.
Chickpeas are legumes that have been an important ingredient in Arabic and Indian cuisine for thousands of years. Therefore it is originally a subtropical plant. And therefore less known in colder regions. But meanwhile farmers also grow them in more temperate regions, although the yield is smaller. But a changing climate and changing dietary habits mean that more and more people want to eat them. And so more and more farmers are starting to grow them.
As indicated earlier, you have two options for buying chickpeas. Prepared, in a can or in a glass jar. That is of course the fastest way to use them. You just need to rinse them and let them drain. But you can also buy dried chickpeas. Just like soy beans, you first have to soak it for a very long time. Minimum six to eight hours. So planning is involved. And a quick lunch with dried chickpeas is therefore unfortunately not possible.
More information about chickpeas and processing dried chickpeas can be found here:
- Chickpeas - Wikipedia.
- How to cook dried chickpeas (ultimate guide). (inspired taste).
- Foolproof cooked chickpeas - 4 ways with tips. (the wimpy vegetarian).
- Chickpeas 101: everything to know about this lovable legume (forks over knives).
My favorite cuisine ranges from Mediterranean to Asian. So it's not surprising that chickpeas also fit in there. And that also translates into many surprising recipes with chickpeas. So be sure to check out the following recipes and quickly buy a few cans of chickpeas in the supermarket:
- Vegetarian chickpea curry.
- Crunchy roasted chickpeas.
- Moroccan meatballs with chickpeas.
- Tasty lukewarm chickpea salad.
- Hummus with sesame paste.
- Falafel (from gerechtenweb)
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.