I’ve partnered up with USA Pulses and Pulse Canada once again to bring you another delicious chickpea recipe that takes a classic beloved dish, and turns it into a healthier alternative that is still simple to make and just as satisfying to eat. I’ve recently learned all about the benefits of pulses, which are the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods known as dry peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans. Packed with protein, fiber and nutrients, eating pulses can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall wellbeing. Head on over to the Pulses website to sign up for the Half-Cup Habit, and see how easy it can be to add a 1⁄2 cup serving of pulses to your diet just 3x per week for added nutrients. These Chickpea “Meatball” Subs are a great way to start incorporating more vegetarian dishes into your weekly meal plan, without having to skimp out on flavor. Sure these subs are still made with hearty rolls and have some cheese, but I strongly believe that as long as you eat things in moderation, you are already winning the battle. The chickpea “meatballs” are where the healthy part of this dish really shines. So save the recipe and use it whenever you’re in need of meatballs, minus the meat of course. I see spaghetti and chickpea balls in your future as well! Let’s begin by sautéing some onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
**Tip: If you don’t have time, or just want to skip this step you can! All you have to do is grate the garlic with a microplane and grate the onion with a box grater. The finer each are, the less strong-flavored they will be!**
Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas and then transfer to a food processor. Pulse a few times until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped.
**Note: I like to rinse the chickpeas to remove that salty watery brine they’re in. This way I can control the amount of salt that will go into my chickpea “meatballs.”**
Add the sautéed onion and garlic, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and parmesan.
Pulse until the mixture comes together and looks like a stiff dough. If the mixture appears to be too stiff, you can add about 1 tablespoon or so of water to soften it up a bit.
**Tip: If you want to keep these gluten-free, you can make or own breadcrumbs with gluten-free bread. I’m not sure if they sell gluten-free bread crumbs at the store, but if they do, grab those!**
Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. You should get about 15 “meatballs.”
**Tip: I like to use a small cookie scooper to shape the balls evenly!**
Bake the chickpea balls in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking, to ensure even browning.
It’s important to note that the chickpea balls will appear to be dry on the outside, but they’re pretty moist (I’m sorry) on the inside. But also we’re going to have marinara sauce involved in the sandwiches, and that will prevent them from drying out.
Make a slit on the side of each roll and spoon some warmed marinara into each. Place a few of the chickpea balls into each and then top with more marinara sauce.
**Note: You don’t have to make your own sauce for these. You already went through the entire process of making the chickpea balls so don’t feel bad for using store-bought marinara.**
Top each with a thin slice of mozzarella. You don’t want to use fresh mozzarella for these because fresh has too much moisture in it. You can also just use shredded mozzarella.
**Note: Depending on the side of your rolls, you can add more or less chickpea balls in each sandwich. I have smaller rolls here, but feel free to use larger rolls!**
Place the sandwiches under a low-heated broiler until the cheese has melted and just begin to brown. Not more than 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish each with fresh basil.
If you want to prep this ahead of time, you can put together the chickpea mixture, transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for up to 4 hours before you plan on shaping and baking the balls.
These would make GREAT sliders for appetizers or snacks. And you know that I know a thing or two about sliders. I mean, I did write the book on them!
Keep these in mind for your big game day feast! I know that they’re not your traditional meatball subs with beef and pork meatballs, but they’re still hearty, delicious and surprisingly filling. The good news about it is that they’re healthier than the original, minus the bread and the cheese, of course.
**Although this post is sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for your continued support of the occasional sponsored post on this site. They help keep the blog going, allowing me to continue to share my recipes with you on a weekly basis. I never want my sponsorships to feel forced, which is why I only partner with companies I feel very passionate about and actually use on a regular basis.**
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 6 hoagies
- 1½ cups marinara sauce
- ½ cup thinly sliced mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Set a medium pan over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the chickpeas into a food processor and pulse until they're chopped down into coarse crumbs. Add the sautéed onions and garlic, bread crumbs, egg, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and parmesan and pulse until the mixture comes together like a dough. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Continue rolling until all the mixture is used. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through baking to ensure even browning.
- To assemble the sandwiches, make a slit in each roll and spoon a bit of warmed marinara into each. Place a few chickpea balls into each and top with more marinara. Top with a slice of mozzarella and transfer the sandwiches onto a baking sheet. Place under a broiler set on low until the cheese has melted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy!