I love a good meatball sandwich. I really, really do. Especially when it is just COVERED in cheese. Mmmm.
But meat is expensive and I’m cheap, so if I can find a vegan/vegetarian version (that doesn’t involve pricey soy meats) of a much-loved dish, I’m going to try it. A half can of chickpeas vs a pound of beef? It’s a no brainer. Plus, then I get to use the other half of the can for hummus, so I’m getting two meals for a dollar. Awesome.
I started with the recipe from Back To Her Roots and kinda winged it from there. For example, I used half of a 28 ounce can of chickpeas, rather than a single 15 ounce can. And, while my wife disagrees, I thought they tasted just fine with Italian breadcrumbs.
And let’s talk food processors. I don’t have one. Okay, I have one, but it cost me $15 on amazon and is crazy tiny. So anything bigger than a half batch of hummus is right out. There just isn’t enough room. But, being the know it all I am, I figured I could use my blender instead. And that was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice enough and it blends…eventually. But trying to blend anything turns into a lot of shaking and a whole lot of hassle. It looked at my 14 ounces of chickpeas and just laughed. And, I mean…it’s chickpeas. From a can. My grandma could purée them without her teeth in. So if you’ve got a blender or food processor strong enough to purée the sun, have at her directions of dumping everything in and then pulsing. For the rest of us, however, we’ve got to be a bit more careful. I was not. The directions here are what I will do next time, now that I am older and wiser.
So here’s what I did, but I encourage you to check out the original recipe as well and do whatever works for you. If you like spices, use Italian breadcrumbs as well as adding the spices she listed. Add whatever toppings you want, I meant to add black olives, oops! Dang, that woulda been tasty. The meatballs did turn out very dry, as is the norm with chickpeas. Again, this recipe is going to reflect what I’ll do next time. This recipe is hardcore a work in progress.
For the chickpea balls:
1/2 28 oz can of chickpeas
1/2 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
For the sauce:
whatever toppings you like (green pepper, onion, black olives, banana peppers)
Use whatever buns you like (we used cheese buns, yuuuum) and whatever cheese you like (we used a mix of provolone and marble cheddar). Yes, I have dairy issues. No, I don’t care. Cheese is worth it.
Okay, so, for those of use blender- or food processor-challenged, start with the egg in the blender. Let it blend and beat the egg for a minute or two and then add a handful of chickpeas. Blend until smooth, then add a handful more. Continue until out of chickpeas. Then add the breadcrumbs and a touch of oil if needed.
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Make twelve or so balls, it doesn’t really matter what they look like. Spray the top of them with cooking spray and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
While those are cooking, warm up your sauce. We just poured the sauce on top of the balls on the sandwich, and the balls were very dry. Next time, I will start by warming up my sauce, adding my banana peppers and olives (or sauteed green peppers and onions and mushrooms or whatever your veggie-lovin’ heart wants. This is a great place to sneak some spinach into your diet if you’re not a big fan of the stuff), and then adding the cooked chickpea balls to the sauce and letting them simmer a little, get some more flavor into them.
When you take the balls out of the oven, turn it to the “broil” setting, where only the top heating element is on, not both. Let it heat up as you assemble your sandwiches (we used three balls per sandwich). Cover the chickpea balls with cheese and then put them under the broiler without the top bun until the cheese is bubbly. If you want to be really fancy, put some garlic butter on the top bun and broil it with the sandwiches to make garlic toast. Next time, Gadget!
Put the tops on the sandwiches, let cool for a minute or three, and then dig in. These were great, we both enjoyed them, and I think next time they’ll be even better.
Coming up next:
Damn It, Why Did I Have Cereal This Morning?
How I Learned To Love Coconut Milk Even More.