Dishing Up the Dirt

Spaghetti & Chickpea Bites with Harissa Tomato Sauce & Almond Parmesan

“Babe, this is f*cking delicious.”

My lovely husband sure knows how to make me blush in the kitchen.

If you know Taylor personally than you already know he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. We’ll often trade Tumbleweed Farm veggies at the farmers market for local meat so Taylor can tear it up in the kitchen for a change. We love our local ranchers and trust/respect their operations. I know most of you assume I’m a vegetarian/vegan but I actually eat meat on occasion. I have two rules for myself when it comes to meat eating.

1. I must know where the meat comes from and who the farmer is.

2. The only exception to the above rule is if I’m a guest at someones house and they’ve prepared a meat dish.

I’m lucky to not have any food allergies so when I’m invited into someone’s home I’ll happily eat whatever the cook has lovingly spent time preparing.

What the heck does all of that have to do with vegan spaghetti and meatballs? Well, everything! We know how good the real deal is and indulge in it on occasion. However, this veggie version is simply delicious. Taylor doesn’t drop the F bomb while he’s eating very often and this meal got two very enthusiastic F*ck yeahs followed by a few fist pumps. I was glowing with pride!

Obviously these won’t taste like your typical meatballs because they have no meat! However, the combination of mushrooms, chickpeas, tamari and spices make these “meatballs” very flavorful. They are a wonderful addition to the spicy harissa-tomato sauce and fill that need for comfort food in the dead of winter.

This is the kind of meal you make on a chilly evening while you’re wearing your PJs and favorite slippers at the dinner table. This meal will warm your heart, sooth your soul and leave you with enough leftovers to experience all of those feelings two nights in a row.

Grab a fork and enjoy!

Spaghetti & Chickpea Bites with Harissa Tomato Sauce & Almond Parmesan

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 30 minutes    Serves: 4-6

Chickpea Bites
  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms (portobello, cremini, button etc.) finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, if canned rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons low sodium tamari
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
Harissa Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (in their juices)
  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tabelspoons harissa spice mix (if you are sensitive to spice start with 1 Tablespoon and go up from there as you taste test)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley for serving
Almond Parmesan Cheese   Spaghetti
  • 1 lb spaghetti


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once hot add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, thyme and tamari. Continue to cook for about 8 more minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Place mushroom and onion mixture in a food processor with chickpeas and chickpea flour. Pulse until well combined but still slightly clumpy. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  4. Place mushroom-chickpea batter in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set.
  5. Once batter has chilled form into 1 1/2 inch uniform balls. Place on a prepared baking sheet and drizzle with a tiny bit of oil and bake in the oven for 18-23 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Flip halfway through cooking.
Harissa Tomato Sauce
  1. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, harissa and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Taste test and adjust seasonings if need be.
  1. Cook in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until al dente.
Assembly Toss the spaghetti with the harissa tomato sauce and chickpea bites. Divide between plates and top with a few pinches of almond parmesan and chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  


*Use this recipe as a guide. *Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary. *Taste test as you go. *Have fun in the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

14 thoughts on “Spaghetti & Chickpea Bites with Harissa Tomato Sauce & Almond Parmesan

  1. This is such a stunna!! I’ve seen lotsa “meatball” recipes with white beans but never chickpeas! I’m so intrigued 🙂 Gushing over that almond parm!

  2. Maxine says:

    Hah! Best intro line! As someone who often tries to impress a meat-lover with veggie creations I can definitely relate. Looks like a great recipe!

  3. Amazing recipe, Andrea! Loving the harissa sauce especially. Harissa is a staple in my kitchen, and I’m always trying to find new ways to use it. And I really like how you are so clear about the fact that there are in fact acceptable ways to have meat in your diet. You explained it really well.

  4. This is such a great alternative to ‘the real deal’. Thanks for sharing. I MUST try this 🙂

  5. Kathryn says:

    This looks amazing! I wanted to thank you for all the great recipes you post here! Your blog really has been an inspiration for me to develop my own recipes along with making yours! I have stop eating meat during the last year and your recipes really helped me enlarge my options and discover new ways to eat veggies! I think you are doing a great job just by developing all those ideas, and I am sure your recipes are making a lot of vegetarian/vegan and omnivores happy! Thanks again! Cheers!

  6. I made this sauce for a quick midday lunch and poached an egg in it. Lovely spicy and smoky flavors, Andrea, and so easy! I make a similar sauce – it’s a Moroccan version with harissa, apricots, lemon and chickpeas, but it’s been so long and I had forgotten about it. So thanks for bringing back some really comforting flavors to my kitchen during this very snowy winter!

    1. Andrea says:

      Katie, I’m so happy you loved this sauce too! It really is the perfect comfort food for a chilly winter evening. Happy cooking!

  7. Erin says:

    Long time follower, first time poster 🙂 I’m really excited to try this but I couldn’t find chickpea flour at my grocery store. Is there an alternative I could use? Thanks!

    1. Andrea says:

      Hi Erin! Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried this with another flour so I can’t guarantee any results. I’d suggest ordering the chickpea/garbanzo bean four online (it’s a great staple for other dishes too!) or making your own. You can make it simply by grinding up dried chickpeas in a high speed blender until a fine meal is achieved. You can follow this recipe Good luck and let me know how you like the chickpea balls!

      1. Erin says:

        Loved them – thanks Andrea! I’ve been vegetarian my whole life and the store-bought veggie “proteins” just don’t do it for me. I echo Taylor’s sentiment on this dish 🙂

        1. Andrea says:

          Woohoo!! I’m so glad you loved these too! Thanks for the lovely comment.

    2. Rob says:

      I used all-purpose flour and it came out great. I’ll definitely be making this again and will probably stick with all-purpose.

      1. Andrea says:

        So happy you enjoyed this recipe as much as we do! Glad the all purpose flour turned out well. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Bre says:

    Hi Andrea! Did you use harissa spice paste or dry spice blend? Do you think it would be a 1 to 1 ratio if using either? Also for the other commenter, I’ve found chickpea flour under the name Besan flour at our local Indian market.
    Thanks and looking forward to making this!

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