Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lemon Basil Chick Pea Balls

We made these Chick Pea Balls flavored with basil, parsley and lemon to go alongside a minestrone soup brimming with winter vegetables.  Guests popped them into the soup too.  Basil created a culinary bridge to the Italian flavors in the soup.

The base recipe is from Laura Washburn's Vegetarian Foods for Kids (2011). Anyone interested in learning to cook simple and pure vegetarian foods will appreciate her approach. The basic recipes are all kid-friendly and many recipes provide variations that amp up the flavor to match grown up palates.  Her basic chick pea bites are a case in point.  The child's version is made with orange juice and mild spices.  The adult version uses lemon juice and a more sophisticated herb and spice blend.

Chick Pea Balls are not just for appetizers and soup sides.  They can also be packed into pita bread with some salad ingredients and dressing for a vegetarian meal or tossed with pasta and your favorite sauce. 

Lemon Basil Chick Pea Balls
Yield: about twenty-five 1-inch balls

2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cans drained chick peas (or 3 1/2 cups cooked and cooled chick peas)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons oat bran (or pulse rolled oats to create oat flour)
2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Note: If substituting fresh with dried herbs, use 1 tablespoon each
Spray oil

  1.  Place chopped carrot and celery in a food processor and pulse until vegetables are finely chopped.  
  2. Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.  Cook the vegetables for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.  When cooked, place in a large bowl to cool while you prepare the bean mixture.
  3. In the same food processor, process drained beans, mayonnaise, oat bran, flour, salt. and lemon juice.  Mixture should be fairly smooth.
  4. Add bean mixture to bowl with vegetables.  Add herbs and combine all ingredients.  
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add more salt, lemon juice or more herbs.
  6. Make balls by scooping spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined or oiled baking sheet.  Moisten your hands with water and roll scoops into small balls.  You may also use a mini-scoop, the type used for drop cookies.
  7. Bake at 375˚F for 25-35 minutes until balls are slightly brown.  Centers will still be moist.  
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature.
TIP: Do you have some new vegetarians joining holiday dinners over the next few months?  Check out books like Laura Washburn's for inspiration.  We also point new vegetarians and the families they cook with to Italian cookbooks where vegetables and grains have always gotten their due.