ITALIAN CHICKPEA 'MEATBALLS' (air fryer & oven method)

These whole food, plant-based (WFPB) meatballs are kid and adult friendly! Add them to your kid's lunch with their favorite dipping sauce like ranch or marinara. Enjoy them on a bed of spaghetti with marinara or pesto zucchini pasta. Vegan, Gluten Free.




AIR FRYER vs OVEN METHOD TEST: (see image above)

  1. Air fryer, no oil (left side)

  2. Oven with avocado oil spray (center)

  3. Oven, no oil (right side)

And the winner is... the air fryer method! We were able to achieve a crispy and golden outer layer in less time and without the use of processed oil. That's a huge win if you're looking to save time and reduce or avoid oil!

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Yields about 12-15 meatballs


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped

  • ¼ cup marinara sauce

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp dried basil

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • ¼ tsp sea salt, or more to taste

  • 4 twists of freshly ground black pepper

FOR SERVING, OPTIONAL

  • Marinara, ranch or pesto sauce for dipping

  • A bed of spaghetti noodles & marinara

  • A bed of pesto and zucchini noodles

Air Fryer Method:

  1. Using the S-blade on your food processor, add the oats and pulse into a flour consistency.

  2. Add the chickpeas, spinach, marinara, nutritional yeast, garlic and spices. Pulse into a chunky dough-like consistency, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as needed. I pulsed about 10 times.

  3. Once all the ingredients are combined, remove small mounds of the mixture with a 2” ice cream scooper or large spoon. Roll into approximately 2” balls.

  4. Set the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-13 minutes. Add the balls to the basket without overcrowding. You may need to do several batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Cook until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Shake the basket every 5 minutes during cook time.

  5. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces, on a bed of noodles or on a salad.

  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 5 days.


Oven Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Using the S-blade on your food processor, add the oats and pulse into a flour consistency.

  3. Add the chickpeas, spinach, marinara, nutritional yeast, garlic and spices. Pulse into a dough-like consistency, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as needed.

  4. Once all the ingredients are combined, remove small mounds of the mixture with a 2” ice cream scooper or large spoon. Roll into approximately 2” balls.

  5. Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes or until golden and crispy on the outside.

  6. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces or on a bed of noodles with marinara sauce.

  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 5 days.


Variations:

  1. Add a ½ cup of chopped fresh basil or parsley to the food processor with all the ingredients and pulse until combined.

  2. Shape into burger patties and serve with your favorite whole-grain bun.


Meal Prep Tip:

Make a double or triple batch on your meal prep day. Before cooking, freeze the extra balls in an airtight container for up to a month. Thaw in fridge overnight and follow chosen cooking method above.


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