The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Vegetarian "Meatballs" with 5 Star Flair


It's time for the January 5 Star Foodies group event once more.
This month our theme is..."Meatballs", mine of course contain no "Meat".
But they are packed with flavorful goodness, I promise!


The veggie-balls have a few ingredients that I enjoy together in my veggie-burgers.
For the burgers I generally add a few more items of whatever fresh produce I
have on hand, then spice them up a bit. Today however we have plenty
of flavor going on with our addition of sauces and the grilled endive.


These vegetarian balls have a list of ingredients that reads off like a "some of my
favorite things" list. To start with I had leftover lentils that I wanted to use up,
and some azuki beans hanging out in my pantry just waiting for some love.
Then I decided to add some rice, and although I do not have a minimal
collection of rices, the forbidden popped out and said "pick me!",
and so I did. Then I decided to use up these crimini mushrooms as
 they impart a wonderful texture when processed along with
our rice and legumes.


And since we don't want them to be lonely we have them happily
sitting in boats of Roasted endive.

Then we needed a few extras to set it off a bit, and you may remember
my last post where I promised a few recipes for our parsley root...
Well how about a creamy parsley root purée for our veggie balls
to nestle in...we do want them to be cozy :)

But why stop at cozy, when they can be warm and cozy with
a colorful drizzle of annatto oil, garlic and capers...


Our  herb and spice collection is a bit fun as well. To start with our basil, you may
have noted the smaller leaves. This lovely is a perennial basil that grows in an
upright column pattern. These paler green and tender leaves pack a
whole lot of basil punch.

The spices here are no slouches either, one being the Tellicherry pepper corns.
That I have posted about before, and are a personal favorite of mine.

Next the coriander seeds with their fresh and upbeat "makes me smile aroma".
Coriander are the seeds from the cilantro plant and have a warmly sweet
aroma with a hint of lemon bite to them.

Then we have the Bamboo Jade sea salt, containing organic bamboo leaf
extract. Aside from it's ability to up our dishes a notch as a finishing salt,
this salt boasts and impressive statistic of  having 84% sodium chloride
 versus 99% of commercial table salt. So in essence we get a bit more
 flavor and use out of our daily allotted salt intake.

Now if you noted the coloring in our olive oil drizzle...ah yes, the next
on our list - the Annatto seed. They look like little deep red terra cotta
stones. The seeds are coated with a thin pigment that is used as a dye
within the culinary world. They can be ground or used whole for
the dye itself, as we will be doing today.

Substitutions: For the salt and pepper you can substitute with
your favorites. The coriander can be subbed with cumin or caraway.
And the annatto seeds with a pinch of paprika or a few strands of saffron.


What you will need:
For the veggie-balls
4 ounces lentils, prepared
4 ounces forbidden rice, prepared
4 ounces azuki beans, prepared
5 ounces crimini mushrooms
12-15 small columnar basil leaves
1/4th cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, bruised
1/2 teaspoon tellichery peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon bamboo jade salt, ground

For the roasted endive
4 endive, halved
olive oil for basting
salt and pepper to taste

For the annatto drizzle
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds, whole
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pearl onions, minced
2 tablespoons capers, whole

For the creamy parsley root purée
6 small parsley roots, trimmed and peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon raw agave, or honey
4 tablespoons half and half
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper


Let's get cooking:
For the veggie-balls
Prepare rice and legumes per package instructions. Cool these to the touch (Note:
if prepared ahead of time warm them up a bit). Place into a large mixing bowl
and add breadcrumbs, spices and egg. Mix together thoroughly then place
in a large food processor, adding basil and mushrooms. Pulse several
times until fine but not mushy.

Using a tablespoon measure out mixture, then roll with the palms of
your hands into evenly shaped spheres. Place uncrowded onto
a lined baking sheet. And bake at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven
15-20 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch.

For the roasted endive
Place sliced endive halves onto a prepared baking sheet and brush
with a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper if desired. Roast at 400 degrees
about 20 minutes or until just tender. Allow to cool a bit, then remove
the very top section leaves to create a boat (these top leaves can be served
at the same time or reserved for another use).

For the annatto drizzle
Place oil into a small sauté pan and add whole annatto seeds. Cook
 on medium heat until oil has attained a rich golden orange hue and
outer coating has been removed leaving small black seeds. Cool
the strain of seeds. Return to heat adding onion and garlic
until fragrant. Turn off heat and add capers, tossing a bit to coat.

 For the creamy parsley root purée
Cut parsley root into 1/4 in pieces and place
in a steamer once water has begun to boil. Continue
to steam until very tender 15 minutes or so. Once tender,
rinse under tepid running water until cooled to the touch.
Place in small food processor and pulse several times until creamy.
Add lemon juice, allspice, salt, pepper and agave continuing to pulse until
incorporated. Now add half and half, again blending. Slowly
drizzle in oil while the processor is running, adding more if needed
until you achieve a creamy texture.

Arrange by placing a tablespoon or so of the creamy parsley root
into the endive boats. Place desired number of veggie-ball on
top, place on individual plates or serving plate, then
drizzle with annatto oil mixture.
Serves 4



Enjoy~
Alisha ~ Magic of Spice




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