Tofu and Chickpea Polpette with Marinara Sauce

Tofu and Chickpea Polpette with Marinara Sauce

These Polpetti are far from your standard “meatless” balls and in Italy, Polpetti are also traditionally eaten without a sauce as a snack or small light meal. When cooked without meat, these are sometimes called crocchette, a word taken from the french language used to distinguish from the two. This recipe, using tofu and chickpeas, gives the Polpetti an amazing texture. Topped with the most delicious Marinara sauce, a match made in heaven, you have something delicious, hearty and perfect for any occasion.

save_time90 Minutes servesServes 2/3 nut? kcal per serving


For the Marinara sauce

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large carrot, very finely chopped

2 stalks celery, very finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

200 ml vegan white wine

These first ingredients form the basis of a Sofrito. This is cooked first and then the other ingredients added.

250 g fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes

200 ml water

1 vegetable stock cube, I use Kallo

2 tablespoons tomato puree

Handful finely chopped fresh basil

For the Polpette

1 400 g block firm tofu

1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms

1 small red onion, chopped

4 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

50 g pistachio nuts

1 400 g tin chickpeas, drained

1 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to your liking

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 garlic clove crushed, or  teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying



Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius ( 400 F ), Gas Mark 6.

Start by preparing the tofu

1 Drain the tofu, press to remove as much water as possible and crumble the tofu into small clumps into a bowl.

2 Stir in the vegetable bouillon powder, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce and spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the tofu is very firm and has bouncy texture.

Now, prepare the sauce whilst the tofu is in the oven.

1 Add the oil to a frying pan over a medium heat and add the finely chopped carrot, celery, onion, garlic, salt, bay leaves, thyme. Fry for 4-5 minutes then add the white wine and pepper. Cover and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

2 Next add the mushrooms and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.

3 Add the chopped tomatoes, water, vegetable stock cube, tomato puree and fresh basil. Cover and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

4 Remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 6-7 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

5 Put to one side and prepare the polpette.

Preparing the Polpette

When ready, remove tofu from oven and reduce oven to 180 degrees C ( 370 F ), Gas Mark 5.

1 Place the dried mushrooms into a processor and process until powdered. Now add the red onion, parsley, pistachio nuts, drained chickpeas, paprika, chilli, salt, pepper and garlic.

2 Process until the mixture is very thick and dough like.

3 Place the mixture into a bowl and pour over the baked tofu. and stir the tofu gently into the mixture.

4 Shape into small balls, approx half the size of a golf ball, place on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to set for around 10 minutes.

5 Using a deep fat fryer or a pan of oil, fry the balls in batches, making sure the oil is hot enough so that they sizzle and fry as soon as they tough the fat. Cook for just 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon and place back onto the baking tray.

6 Place back into the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Putting the dish together

This dish can be served over spaghetti for a traditional feel, or another pasta of your choice. I served my dish over spiralized carrots and courgettes, which is so simple to prepare.

1 Using a spiralizing tool ( or machine ) spiralize 2 large carrots and 2 large courgettes.

2 Place into a pan of salted boiling water, and blanch for 30 seconds.

3 Remove and place in the bottom of your serving bowl.

4 Place the polpetti on top of the vegetables and spoon over a generous amount of the Marinara sauce.

5 Finish the dish with a final sprinkle of chopped basil and parsley.


The tofu mince can be substituted with your preferred vegan mince alternative. Be sure to cook it before using it in the recipe.


Read the recipe through. Many of the processes can be prepared at different stages, and also in advance which makes it much quicker to put the dish together.


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