Recipe and photograph – Dr Joan Ransley


Warm the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Set aside and allow to cool.

Meanwhile place the chopped garlic in a food processor with the drained chickpeas, kidney beans, cumin, wholemeal flour, and egg. Pulse the bean mix so there are still a few visible lumps of beans and chickpeas. Transfer to a bowl and season with pepper. Add the fried onion, lemon zest, chopped coriander and parsley. Keeping a little coriander back for serving.

Place the fine breadcrumbs onto a plate. Take a tablespoon of the bean mix (about 30g), shape into a ball, roll in the breadcrumbs and place on a sheet of baking parchment paper. Continue rolling the balls until you have used up all the mixture. Place the balls in the fridge while you make the tomato sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 and place a shallow oven proof dish in the oven to warm.

For the tomato sauce

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the chopped garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes bay leaf, and dried oregano to the saucepan and heat until they just begin to simmer. Continue to simmer the tomato sauce while shallow frying the meatless ‘meat’ balls.

Remove the ‘meat’ balls from the fridge and shallow fry in oil for about eight minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden, draining the balls on kitchen paper after frying. You may have to do this in batches and place the balls in the dish warming in the oven.

Pour the tomato sauce over the ‘meatballs’ and serve with brown rice and a scattering of parsley and coriander.

Alternative serving suggestion

For a vegan version of these meatless ‘meat’ balls, leave the egg out of the recipe. Replacing the flour with chickpea (gram) flour will help to bind the bean mixture together more firmly. The vegan version of this recipe will be slightly crumblier than the vegetarian version, but the meatballs do hold together and taste fabulous.

These meatless meatballs can be served in warmed pita bread with salad and a harissa sauce.

Cooking tips

When choosing an oil for shallow frying choose refined oils (i.e. not described as ‘virgin or extra virgin). These are more stable at high temperatures, and the lower cost and milder flavour mean they’re better for frying and roasting.

Gluten free bread can be used to make the breadcrumbs.

Leftover ‘meatballs’ and tomato sauce can be frozen for a month.

 Per Serving (g)Per 100g
Calories (Kcal/KJ)464 / 1946118 / 497
Protein (g)215.3
Fat (g)153.8
Saturated fat (g)1.90.5
Carbohydrate (g)5514
Sugar (g)7.51.9
Fibre (g)143.5
Sodium (mg)12932.9
Salt equivalent (g)0.30.1
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