July 29, 2013 18 Comments
In all honesty, I am not a fan of quinoa.
I realise that this is not the sort of statement that should introduce a recipe that contains quinoa! However, it’s the truth. I find the bitter taste of quinoa’s natural coating, saponin, off-putting.
Recently, I decided to give quinoa a second chance.
Carrot and Coriander Quinoa Balls were created after a fortuitous mishap in the kitchen!
I had read that soaking quinoa removes its bitterness.
So, I soaked one cup of quinoa overnight, then rinsed it four or five times. As it had swollen to about double its original size, I was unsure of how much water to use to cook it. Once the quinoa was cooked, it was obvious that I had used too much water. I had produced gluggy quinoa! There would be no light and fluffy quinoa to mix with salad vegetables and a dressing.
Then inspiration hit! I could transform the glug into balls with some vegies, and pan-fry them. The experiment was a success! No bitterness was evident. Quinoa, all is forgiven. 🙂
After several ‘experiments’, I settled on a ratio of ingredients. I also determined that oven baking is my preferred method of cooking this recipe. Pan-frying requires my constant attention – gently turning the balls to cook them all over.
By all means, if you want to try pan-fried quinoa balls, go ahead. I use a non-stick fry pan (skillet), lightly smeared with olive oil. They take about 25 minutes to cook (on a low-medium heat).
Carrot and Coriander Quinoa Balls
Makes 19 balls
1/2 cup organic quinoa (I use multi-coloured quinoa, which is a combination of red, black and white quinoa) – soaked for at least 3 hours (or overnight)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/4 cup (loosely packed) finely grated carrot
1 Tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallots (green onions), white and green sections
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (optional)
1. Soak the quinoa first: Pour the quinoa into a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for at least 3 hours. The quinoa will expand to almost double the original quantity, and the water will be very cloudy. Pour the cloudy water out, and add fresh water. Swish the quinoa around with your fingers. This water will become cloudy too. Pour it out, and add fresh water again. Repeat the rinsing process 3 or 4 times, with fresh water, until it is no longer cloudy. Ensure that you drain away all of the water. You do not want to add any of the rinse water to the saucepan with the quinoa. Use a sieve if you need to.
2. Put quinoa into a medium-sized saucepan. Add 1 cup of water. Cover saucepan, and bring water to the boil.
3. When water is boiling, add stock powder and stir well. Cover the saucepan, and simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Remove saucepan from the heat, and leave covered for 10 mins.
4. Add cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add carrot, coriander and shallots. Mix well.
5. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
6. Measure out a metric tablespoon of mixture. Form into a ball, rolling it between your palms. Repeat with the remainder of the mixture. Place all of the quinoa balls onto the tray, and drizzle with olive oil.
7. Bake for 20-25 mins in a pre-heated oven (160C/320F, fan-force oven). (At the 15 minute mark, remove the tray from the oven and turn the balls over, using tongs. Return tray to the oven for 5-10 minutes.)
8. Serve immediately with sweet chilli sauce.
Other combinations of herbs or vegetables would be delicious too: parsley or basil, corn kernels or finely diced capsicum (bell pepper). However, stick to the ratio of ingredients specified in the recipe to ensure that the balls maintain good structure. 🙂
The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts
This recipe is a winner with the Tiny Vegans. All of them! From the tiniest to the biggest. They enjoy quinoa balls hot or cold, with sweet chilli sauce.
A note about soaking: My friend Sarah assures me that a thorough rinsing of quinoa removes its bitter taste, and that soaking isn’t required. I haven’t tried this yet. If you decide not to soak the quinoa when making this recipe, you will need to add more than the recommended quantity of two parts water to one part quinoa. Or you will end up with nice, fluffy quinoa suitable for adding to a salad, rather than the ‘glug’ that this recipe requires.
Are you a fan of quinoa? If so, what is your favourite quinoa recipe?
Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family – I hope your family enjoys it too!
Linking up with Healthy Vegan Fridays.