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Vegan “Meat” Balls

Hello, everyone!  I meant to post this before Christmas and then got a little bit sidetracked with, um, Christmas.  Seems like a long time ago now…

My brother and his partner are currently giving veganism a go and so, as Christmas was at their house, we had to come up with something to contribute to the dinner that night.  Normally, this wouldn’t be such an issue – Mum and I are already vegetarian – but because I have kidney issues, a lot of vegan-friendly foods are off the menu.  No chickpea casserole or lentil burgers for me!  So it became a little trickier to figure out what to bring.  And I didn’t want to wuss out and bring something just for me to eat.

Mum was in charge of dessert, so I told her to just make apple pie which is easy to do (just substitute any butter in the pastry with a non-dairy spread) and we served it with soy ice-cream.  Simple!  So she got off lightly.

I had to figure something else out for a savoury dish.  So I came up with these vegan “meat” balls.  I don’t have an exact recipe – I was too busy testing and mixing to actually write down any measurements – but you will get the general gist of things here.  It’s a bit of a keep-adding-stuff-until-you-get-it-right kind of recipe anyway.

Start with the binding agent, which in this recipe is flax seed meal.  Add three tablespoons of water to one of flax meal and mix together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Now you need a large eggplant, chopped into small-ish pieces.  Chuck in a frypan and saute with a little bit of oil.  To stop it drying out, add a splash of water now and again.  You’re going to want to cook it for a while until….

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…it goes shmushy.  Y’know, all soft and mushy and no longer holding its shape.  Shmushy.  Oh and while you’re doing that, blanch some broccoli florets in boiling water for about 3 minutes until it is tender but NOT shmushy.  I used about 400g broccoli for this.  Drain it and set aside while the eggplant is cooking.

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Into a food processor, chuck the broccoli and eggplant, flax meal, five chopped spring onions (or you can use a small brown onion, chopped and sauteed with the eggplant), 200g of pine nuts, and about a cup of quick porridge oats.  I also added a little vege stock powder for seasoning and some smoked paprika.  Pulse in the processor, until it forms a sticky, combined blob. If it seems a little too sticky and wet, add some more oats or, if you’re not me, you could probably chuck in some besan (chickpea) flour.

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Now, roll the mixture into little balls – about the size of a golf ball.  Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little more smoked paprika if desired.

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Bake for 25 – 30 mins in a 180 C oven.  Turn halfway through cooking time so they’re golden on all sides.  They should be quite firm and crispy on the outside.

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Serve with a nice tomato sauce (like you would regular meatballs).  Yum!

These balls freeze really well and are delicious cold as well as hot.  You can use them in place of mince in a “meatloaf” or burgers.  As I said, my recipe is not exact – just go by feel and taste.  The eggplant lends a nice meaty taste to the dish, but you could substitute everything else for something you prefer.  Eg grated carrot instead of broccoli, breadcrumbs instead of oats, etc.  And of course you could use egg instead of the flax, if you’re not vegan.  Anything goes here!  Just experiment a bit 🙂

Hope you give these a try and maybe invent your own version/recipe (using my crappy version as a blue-print).  This recipe makes enough for a whole family and has the added bonus of not looking like they contain vegies (so fuss-pots will eat them too).

Thank you for stopping by x

 

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Haloumi & Zucchini Fritters/Patties

I have been meaning to make haloumi fritters for ages, because I keep seeing them everywhere, on menus and in magazines.  I finally got around to trying them this week.  Mine is a fairly basic recipe, to which you could add “extras” like chopped vegie bacon, sauteed onion, spring onion or sundried tomato.  Experiment with whatever you have in the fridge (that’s pretty much what I do – I’m not very organised!).

This recipe makes about 12 medium sized fritters.  They’re good hot or cold, so great for tucking in lunchboxes.  I’ve baked mine, because I don’t really fry anything, but you could certainly fry them if you prefer that method.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchinis, grated
100g haloumi cheese, grated
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Tbs chopped dill or parsley
Tbs sumac
Salt and pepper to season
(go easy on the salt as there is plenty in the haloumi)

Method

Preheat oven to 190 C

Squeeze as much excess liquid out of the grated zucchini as you can.  Mix with haloumi in a large bowl, with breadcrumbs and beaten eggs.  Mix herbs and seasoning through the mixture.  If it’s a little wet, you can add some more breadcrumbs or some rolled oats to soak up the excess moisture.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Using a large spoon, drop about 1/4 cup of mixture on to tray to form each fritter.  Leave a little room for spreading.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and crispy on the outside.

Serve as a snack with some herbed yoghurt and salsa, or have for brekky with a nice poached egg and some mushrooms.

Enjoy 🙂

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Beetroot Risotto with Feta and Peas

I watch MasterChef a lot.  It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food.  Or cooking food.  Which then leads to eating food.  One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto.  They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them.  So many people have tried and failed.  Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).

I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now).  Take this Beetroot Risotto.  Delicious.  It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests.  My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :

Ingredients 

4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish

Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.

Heat  olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.

Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.

Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).

Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

Enjoy 🙂

PS In your face, MasterChef!

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