Veggie Balls

Other, Vegetarian

Veggie Balls

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking 

It’s amazing how many ways people have come up with to convert traditional meat dishes for vegetarians. You can always go to the supermarket and buy vegetarian meatballs (I like the Trader Joe’s ones) but there are a LOT of “unpronounceables” on the ingredients list. This is neither the easiest nor the fastest recipe but you know what’s going into them. The lentils give them a good meaty texture and then you have the additional benefits of all the veggies.  

Yields 30-32 veggie balls 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated rennet-free Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped

 Veggie Balls, plato

Directions:

1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and let cool.

2.     Add the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, thyme and slat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.

3.     Add the tomato purée and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

4.     Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for 15 more minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

5.     Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.

6.     Add the eggs, Parmesan, oat flour, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetables and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

7.     Preheat the oven to 400F (204C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside.

8.     Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs, making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing ¼-inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

9.     Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.

Veggie Balls, plato close-up

Comments: I liked these plain and simple but the original recipe suggests eating them with pesto; my parents did so and loved it. If there’s one thing that could be improved is the umami taste. There isn’t much of it so they may be even better if you add more spices or serve them with some kind of sauce to ump up the taste. I did not have oat flour but I processed old-fashioned oats; you can also use breadcrumbs (as stated in the original recipe). You may be able to find finely chopped walnuts in the supermarket or you can also process these. When forming the “meatballs,” I suggest you wet your hands so that the mixture doesn’t stick to them. I made half the recipe for my parents and myself and I had leftovers for lunch the following day (good for a meatball sub!).

Veggie Balls, plato close-up c: pesto

Veggie Ball with Pesto!

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Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce

Other, Vegan, Vegetarian

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking

Never say “no” to a dish that has eggplant. They are delicious and are great in vegetarian meals because of their “meatiness.” The chickpeas and feta cheese in this recipe give it a well-rounded flavor and add protein to it. This can easily be made into a vegan meal by omitting the feta cheese (though it gives a great punch) and substituting the honey for sugar or agave nectar.

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice, pulsed to a coarse purée
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1¼ pounds eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce, lado

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, honey and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce is fragrant, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425F (218C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with cooking spray or olive oil. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet, salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft all the way through. Remove from the heat. Fold the aluminum foil over and crimp the edges together so the eggplant steams as it cools.
  3. Turn the oven down to 350F (177C).
  4. Grease a 2-quart (8×8-inch) baking dish. Place the chickpeas in the baking dish and stir in 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Layer the eggplant over the chickpeas, top with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle the feta over the top. Sprinkle with the oregano and cover tightly with foil.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until the dish is bubbling.

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce, arriba

Comments: There’s nothing really too complex about this recipe though it does take longer than others. You can cook the eggplant up to a day ahead and keep covered in the refrigerator. You can make the tomato sauce up to 3 days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator; it also freezes well. I love the combination of ingredients and the slight sweetness of the sauce.

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce, plato

 

Baked Eggplant Sticks

Side Dishes

Baked Eggplant Sticks

I strongly believe that the eggplant is one of the best vegetables out there. They go with anything and you can bake them in so many ways. I had some eggplants in my fridge and I needed to use them fast before they rotted. I had planned to make a meal that day but my parents wanted to eat meat so I had to find a side dish that included eggplants. How could I possibly resist breaded eggplant “fries?” I couldn’t. Here’s the outcome!

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg white
Baked Eggplant Sticks, plato c: milanesas de soja

Soy Milanesas with Baked Eggplant Sticks

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F (232C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. Cut the ends off the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in half and then into ¼ inch thick slices. Lay each slice on the cutting board and cut into ¼ inch strips.
  3. Place the eggplant strips in a bowl and season with olive oil and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and the egg white in another.
  5. Dip a few eggplant strips at a time into the egg white and then into the breadcrumbs. Use a fork to fully coat the eggplant and to remove them from the crumbs. Place the strips on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn over the strips and bake for about 5 more minutes or until golden.

 

Comments: There’s really nothing to this recipe. It’s foolproof but absolutely delicious! The eggplant sticks are crunchy on the outside but remain soft and tender on the inside. There’s very little hands-on time and they bake quite quickly. My parents had them with barbecued pork and I had them with some Soy Milanesas.

Baked Eggplant Sticks, plato, close-up

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

Vegan, Vegetarian

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

Adapted from eatingwell.com

This is a great, nutritious midweek meal. You get complex carbs and a serving of vegetables (as well as Vitamin A and potassium) from the sweet potatoes and Vitamin C and antioxidants from the tomatoes while the beans  add protein. I know a lot of people don’t like eating the potato skins but they add potassium, niacin, iron and fiber; if you eat it all together I don’t think the skins are half bad.

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on high until tender all the way to the center.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin and coriander and heat over medium heat.
  3. When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream.

 

Comments: This is a meal you can literally prepare in under 30 minutes. As the sweet potatoes bake in the microwave, you can prepare the filling over the stove. As I said before, it’s also very nutritious. I love the blend of contrasting flavors (the sweetness of the potatoes, the tartness of the sour cream, the slight acidity of the tomatoes…). I think it would also taste great if you added some corn to the filling. Add as much sour cream as you like to the top and maybe consider substituting it for Greek yogurt. Omit the sour cream for a vegan version.

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad, plato