Meatless Kale Meatballs with Romesco Sauce

Many of our more plant based diet types like Okinawan and Vegetarian call for swapping out some of the animal protein in favor of plant proteins. What better way to do this than with a vegetarian meatball recipe. These tender and delicious plant based meatballs are made from kale and chickpeas. They’re a versatile vessel for any of your favorite sauces, but my top way to serve them is with an easy romesco sauce!


Meatless Kale Meatballs with Romesco Sauce

  • Author: Danielle Moore
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups kale
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 T za’atar
  • 1/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 c roasted red peppers
  • 2 Tbsp almonds
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat
  3. In a food processor, pulse chickpeas, kale, onion, 1 clove of garlic, and salt and pepper to taste until ground
  4. Add chickpea flour and 1 egg then pulse another minute or so to combine
  5. Form into 12 meatballs and transfer to prepared baking sheet
  6. Bake 22-25 minutes, flipping halfway through
  7. Wipe food processor clean then combine roasted red peppers, almonds, lemon juice and remaining garlic clove and pulse or to desired consistency
  8. Heat romesco sauce over med-low until heated through
  9. Serve meatballs with romesco sauce


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 232.4
  • Sugar: 5.1
  • Sodium: 247.1
  • Fat: 11.1
  • Saturated Fat: 1.4
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6.6
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 24.4
  • Fiber: 6.4
  • Protein: 9.7
  • Cholesterol: 46.6

Keywords: dairy free, gluten free, grain free, soy free, vegan

What is romesco?

Romesco is a Spanish-style sauce. While there are a ton of great variations, a typical romesco sauce is made with roasted red peppers, almonds and garlic. It’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket to jazz up any dish! I have yet to meet a vegetable I didn’t love more with romesco.

What consistency should the meatballs mixture be?

When you pinch the mixture together, it should hold. This mixture will be a bit wet, which is exactly what you want! The chickpea flour will absorb some of that extra moisture. If it’s too difficult to work with, transfer the mixture to the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes then try again. Resist the urge to add more flour as it will dry the meatballs out.

What consistency should the romesco sauce be?

This one is totally up to you! Some folks love a chunky romesco sauce while other people like to puree until smooth. I personally like a happy medium, a creamy sauce with a little bite from not-quite-pureed almonds. You can adjust the consistency to your preference. If you’re looking for a thicker sauce, make it as written and puree almonds. Pureed almonds will add thickness. If you want a thinner sauce, add some water to the mix.

Can I use another green in this recipe?

You sure can, but remember the the texture and water content is going to vary from green to green. This recipe works best with hearty greens. So instead of delicate baby spinach, choose collards or beet greens. If you choose a more delicate green with a higher water content, you may need to use the refrigerate trick or even add another 1-2 Tablespoons of chickpea flour to find the right balance. Remember, err on the side of too wet so they don’t dry out.

What else can I do with this delicious mixture?

This chickpeas and kale mixture is crazy versatile. It makes great meatballs but also translates to burgers or even a meatloaf. I also love using a mixture like this to replace ground meat in a recipe. Just add some taco-inspired spices, and you’ve got the perfect taco meat.

Recipe compatibility with your diet type

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This recipe has been custom designed for Agrarian, California Coastal, California Keto, Forager, Hunter Gatherer, Lean Machine, Mediterranean, Modified Paleo, Mosaic, Nordic, Okinawan, Paleo Plus, Pegan, Pescetarian, Trainer, Urban Grazer, Vegetarian, Villager, Wayoan and West Angeleno diet types, learn more.

Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore is a professional recipe developer, Nutrition expert, food photographer and lover of veggies. Read her full bio here.

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