Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add half of the olive oil (1 Tbsp or 15 ml as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) and minced garlic. Sauté until slightly browned, stirring often - about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then add to food processor or blender with flax egg.
Next add panko bread crumbs, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan parmesan cheese, salt + red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and 1 Tbsp olive oil (15 ml). Pulse/blend until small bits remain, scraping down sides as needed.
Next add rinsed/dried chickpeas (see notes for tempeh) 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. I added a bit more basil, salt, and panko bread crumbs.
Scoop out rounded 1 Tbsp amounts of dough (I used this 1.5 Tbsp scoop from Amazon) and gently form/roll into balls - about 15 total (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Then roll in additional vegan parmesan cheese-panko bread crumb mixture to coat (see photo).
Heat the same skillet you used earlier over medium heat. Once hot, add enough olive oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet (~2 Tbsp | 30 ml), then add meatballs in two batches, 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 any pasta you want to serve with your meatballs, as well as your favorite marinara sauce (I love this sauce, warmed up in a saucepan).
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 cooked pasta with marinara sauce and desired number of meatballs. Top with another sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil (optional).
Leftover meatballs will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, though best when fresh. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through, or in the microwave.
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 F (176 C) oven until completely warmed through.
*Adapted from my Simple Vegan Meatballs. *Instead of using chickpeas, you can substitute tempeh, though it does impart a slightly bitter flavor. To prepare, slice your 8-ounce (227 g) tempeh block into quarter-inch slices and place in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Steam/simmer for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Proceed through recipe as instructed, adding the tempeh where I list adding the chickpeas. (Tempeh method adapted from The Kitchn.) *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without extra sides or toppings.