{Recipe} Carrot and Coriander Quinoa Balls

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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. ūüôā

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).

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Carrot and Coriander Quinoa Balls

Makes 19 balls

Ingredients

1/2 cup organic quinoa (I use multi-coloured quinoa, which is a combination of red, black and white quinoa) Рsoaked 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)

Method

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.

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Pan-fried quinoa balls

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. ūüôā

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Great finger food for toddlers.

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Yummy with sweet chilli sauce.

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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.

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Oven-baked quinoa balls, ready for a picnic.

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.

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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 ‚Äď I hope your family enjoys it too!

Ally

Linking up with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

{Recipe} Cucumber and Nori Cups

I was inspired to create Cucumber and Nori Cups after seeing a recipe called Cucumber Cups in the Veggieful e-book, Vegan Party Food. With beautiful photographs and scrumptious recipes, this e-book is a bargain at only $2.95.

I wanted to make an after school snack for my kids that fit the following criteria: healthy, visually appealing, simple to prepare, and not requiring cooking.

I was planning to make Cucumber and Nut Cheese Bites (using hommus instead of nut cheese) when I remembered the Cucumber Cups I had seen in Vegan Party Food. Veggieful’s Cucumber Cups are packed with satay tofu. I am yet to make them, but they look truly delectable.

I packed my cucumber cups with ingredients that were available in my kitchen. Then I wrapped them in strips of nori (seaweed).

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Ingredients

Continental (telegraph) Cucumber

hommus

grated carrot

chopped pineapple

cubed beetroot

raw cashews 

sesame seeds

poppy seeds

raw cashews

nori sheet

Method

1. Cut the cucumber into 3 cm pieces (approximately). Obviously, the length of your cucumber will determine the number of cups. Use more than one cucumber if you want to make a larger quantity.

2. Scoop out some of the flesh using a teaspoon:

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3. Add a dollop of hommus to each cup. Add the grated carrot. Then add pineapple, beetroot, and cashews. Sprinkle some cups with poppy seeds, and some with sesame seeds.

4. Cut thin strips from a sheet of nori. Wrap each strip snuggly around the cups, then moisten the end with water to ‘stick’ it down.

5. Serve.

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This is a very ‘flexible’ recipe. You can use a different combination of vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Use nut cheese, nut butter, vegan cream cheese, or other dips instead of hommus. You can omit the nori.

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This recipe need never be the same each time you make it. Be guided by the ingredients in your kitchen.

A tip: If you don’t use hommus, use a ‘thick’ dip. A runny dip will spill over the sides when you add the rest of the ingredients. Yes, it happened to me. ūüôā

What is your favourite party food? 

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Sharing this recipe with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Ally

{Recipe} Mushroom and Parsley Tarts

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We celebrated our daughter’s birthday recently. In the process, Mat and I celebrated 9 years of parenthood. What a heart warming, blissful, hilarious, exciting, exhausting, wondrous, magical, frustrating, glorious, joyful journey it has been (and continues to be)!

I am immensely proud of the compassionate, generous, and inquisitive child that our daughter has blossomed into.

For her birthday, I baked lemon cheesecake (see this recipe) and a one-layer Mocha Almond Fudge cake. We were blessed with a (one week) visit from Mat’s mum. Our daughter was showered with love, adoration, and gifts from all of her grandparents.

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She had a birthday sleepover with a few friends. Our brood of four swelled to seven, for 20 hours. Our boys were excited about playing with the ‘big kids’! My daughter is very fortunate to have kind friends in her life, who also didn’t seem to mind that they had acquired two little shadows (and an occasional baby shadow)!

When we discussed the food that she would like to have at her party, the birthday girl requested Mushroom and Parsley Tarts (as an afternoon snack) and bean nachos (for dinner). My daughter is very decisive. Another of her admirable qualities.

Mat made Banana Oat pancakes (gluten-free version) with blueberries and maple syrup, for all of the kids for breakfast the next morning.

By late morning, we had some weary children on our hands. As has been the long running tradition of all good sleepover parties – the children stayed up way past their regular bedtimes! So, incidentally, did the adults!

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For the party, I made mini Mushroom and Parsley Tarts.

We usually make the tarts in a¬†12-cup patty pan (ie. a shallow, domed muffin tray).¬†If you don’t have a patty pan, you can use a regular muffin tray.¬†(It may just be a little tricky to remove the baked tarts from the muffin tray. Take care that they don’t break apart).

The following recipe refers to a regular size tart, and the variation for mini tarts is discussed below.

Mushroom and Parsley Tarts

Quantity –¬†Approximately 18 tarts

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

1 1/2 tablespoons vegan margarine (or olive oil)

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 1/4 cups rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)

2 cups chopped mushrooms

3 tablespoons chopped red onions

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 tsp dijon mustard

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Garnish: chopped parsley

You will also need:

2 x 12-cup patty pan or 2 x regular muffin tray.

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C/ 350F for a fan-forced oven.

2. Melt the margarine (or heat the oil) in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Gradually add the rice milk and bring to the boil, stirring constantly to gain a smooth (but thick) consistency. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms, onions, parsley, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes. Then, remove from heat.

5. Cut the pastry into 18 large circles (I use the top of my stainless steel metric 1/2 cup to cut the circles):

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6. With your fingers, mould each circle of pastry into the patty pan cups. Scoop about 1 – 1.5 heaped Tbsp of mushroom mixture into each pastry circle:

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7. Bake in the oven for approximately 14 minutes, or until pastry is golden.

8. Gently remove tarts from the trays. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

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To make Mini Tarts

You will need: 2 x mini muffin trays (each tin has 24 cups)

Method: I used the top of a 1/4 metric cup to cut the pastry for the birthday mini tarts (see pic above). You could use a small cookie cutter.

Quantity: I made 24 mini tarts plus 7 regular-sized tarts (I only own 1 mini muffin tin). I estimate that the mixture should make approximately 38 mini tarts.

Baking time: approximately 12 minutes (180 deg C/350F, fan-forced oven):

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The tarts were snapped up in no time!

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Every Monday, I post a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. It is my sincere hope that your family enjoys it too.

Ally

[Edited on 8 April 2013 to include more detailed information about baking trays, and up-dated photos.] 

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