Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Meatballs

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Meat-less Balls

This holiday inspired dish dressed up in red and green is great as an appetizer or meal that you can make ahead. Your guests won't even notice there is no meat in these meatballs. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are a rich source of dietary fiber, protein and many minerals and basil is an excellent source of vitamin K. You don't have to give up taste or nutrition.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins


Tomato Dipping Sauce

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes drained
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 ⁄4 cup freshly chopped parsley and basil


  • 1 flax egg 1 tbsp. ground flax seed + 2.5 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil divided, plus more for sautéing
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil chopped
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped, sun dried tomatoes (dry, not in oil)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
  • Pinch of each of sea
  • salt and red pepper flakes plus more to taste
  • 1, 15 ounce 425 g can chickpeas*, drained, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano or 2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped


  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp. bread crumbs


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare flax egg in your food processor or blender.
  • Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tbsp. extraR virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Sauté until slightly browned, stirring often – about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then add to flax egg.
  • Next, add bread crumbs, basil, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, salt + red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Pulse/blend until small bits remain, scraping down sides as needed.
  • Next, add rinsed/dried chickpeas and blend/pulse until a moldable “dough” is formed, scraping down sides as needed. You don’t want the chickpeas to turn into a paste, but you also don’t want any left whole.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add a bit more basil, salt and/or bread crumbs, if needed.
  • Scoop out rounded 1 tbsp. amounts of dough and gently form/roll into balls – about 15 total. Then, roll in additional Parmesan cheese bread crumb mixture to coat.
  • Heat the same skillet you used earlier over medium heat. Once hot, add enough extra virgin olive oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet (~2 tbsp.). Then, add meatballs in two batches, so as to not crowd the pan. Add more oil as needed.
  • Brown for about 5 minutes total, shaking the pan to roll them around to brown all sides. Turn down heat slightly if browning too quickly.
  • Add sautéed meatballs to a bare baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • At this time, prep the tomato dipping sauce.
  • Once meatballs are golden brown and fairly firm to the touch, remove from oven. Let cool briefly before serving. They will firm up the longer they cool.
  • To serve, top with sauce and another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.


Leftover meatballs will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, though best when fresh. Reheat in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until warmed through.
To freeze, sauté meatballs as instructed, then transfer to a baking sheet and freeze until completely firm. Then, transfer to a freezer safe bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until completely warmed through.
Adapted from The Minimalist Baker