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Hi! 

So happy you passed by!  Vegetarian? Plantbased? Or just looking for healthier options for your diet? It doesn't really matter! I myself am what I like to call an "amateur vegan". Still experimenting and trying new things on daily basis and I truly love this process! Join me! 
I made this blog simple and visually incentive so that you could come back and browse for inspiration whenever you need it! 

Broccoli & Chickpea Veggie Balls in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

Broccoli & Chickpea Veggie Balls in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

Comfort food. That’s what this is. At least for me. I could eat pasta with a creamy goodness on top any day. Everyday, more exactly. Add veggie balls with it and you have a classic dish. It even looks real, doesn’t it?

However, even if it does resemble real meatballs by the look I have a real struggle naming it something else than Veggie Balls. If you search “Vegan Meatballs” google will list you an insane amount of different kinds of recipes. In my opinion this dish is one of the most suitable dishes to be called for what it actually is – “Veggie balls”. There are so many vegan alternative food that cannot be named anything else without loosing it’s meaning i.e. “Almond Cheese”, “Soy Yoghurt”, etc. But “Vegan Meatball” isn’t one of them. I believe “Veggie Balls” or “Vegetable Balls” here is much more suitable and also a prettier name. But it’s just my opinion.

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Let’s get to business. These are very easy to make. However, you should own a food processor for making it. Or let me rephrase it – everyone should own a food processor! Seriously, this is an irreplaceable item in my kitchen. I use it every day, few times a day, actually. You don’t have to invest in a super powerful extra expensive stuff. I bought mine 4 years ago, have been using it daily and I think I will still be using it in 10 years. It’s Philips Viva HR7762. Probably the most economic food processor out there.

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It’s very rarely that I use any other additional blades in the food processor than the main S-shaped blade. But on occasions like this, when grating my veggies by hand would take 10 time longer, I just go ahead and use the grater blade. Took like 30 seconds to grate the whole broccoli. So, be smart - use your tools!

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After you are done with a broccoli and start with the second part of the recipe, please remember that it’s not hummus we are making here! Do not over pulse the chickpeas! It’s very easy to make a mistake here because it all goes so fast, but just take it slow and be careful! If it does happen that you accidentally over mix it, just add more bread crumbs or maybe some additional flour (chickpea, pea or buckwheat) so that the balls stick better together when forming.

I use bread crumbs in this recipe, but if you want to go for a gluten free dish – just add some gluten-free panko instead.

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As almost everywhere, the sauce here is the main champion. It is important to use ripe and tasty tomatoes here. Don’t use the cheap store-bought tomatoes that taste like water. If you cannot find any good tomatoes where you live, use canned ones. Those are always full of taste. On so many occasions it is so much better than fresh tomatoes.

To make the sauce creamy I use my all-time favorite Oatly cream. This Swedish brand of oat-based products has changed my life. (Their Crème Fraîche tastes just like a real one!!) If you cannot find any Oatly products, use any other plant-based heavy cream. There are always alternatives like Rice Cream or Soya Cuisine Cream in the stores.  

An important part of the sauce making is reducing the heat once you add the cream. You don’t want it to bubble over and become watery. So, take it slow but steady. 

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When the meatballs are ready baked, I like to keep them for few minutes out of the oven and let it to cool off. Baked falafels or most veggie balls tend to get crispier on the outside when left to cool off. Once you add veggie balls back to the sauce, do not stir it too much. Just cover with a lid and let it warm back up.

Of course, it would have been a super classic move to serve it with spaghetti, but then I was out of it, so I used my Italian spinach pasta. Which was still a match made in heaven!

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Broccoli & Chickpea Veggie Balls in a Creamy Tomato Sauce


Ingredients:

For the veggie balls:

1 broccoli (grated)

1 Tsbp tomato paste

1 can chickpeas

4 cloves of garlic (I love garlic!)

½ onion, roughly chopped

½ fresh chili

1 Tbsp olive oil

3-4 Tbsp breadcrumbs

1tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika powder

Salt & Pepper

 

For the sauce:

2 big ripe tomatoes (chopped) or cherry tomatoes quartered or just use canned tomatoes

1 Tbsp olive oil

¼ onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 handful of rucola

200ml of Oatly iMat cream or any plant-based heavy cream

1 tsp paprika powder

Fresh thyme

Salt & Peper

 

Instructions:

1. I start with shredding 1 broccoli in my food processor using a shredding disc. Transfer broccoli from food processor to a bigger mixing bowl when it’s done.

2. Change the shredding disc into the S-shaped blade (the usual one) on your food processor. Don’t bother washing food processor in between.

3. Add rinsed chickpeas, garlic, onion, chili, tomato paste, olive oil, all the spices and pulse everything until it mixes well. Do not over mix it, it should still have some bigger chunks of onion or chickpeas (you are not making hummus here!).

4. Transfer chickpea mixture to the broccoli bowl. Add bread crumbs and using your hands mix everything very well. Start forming veggie balls with your hands, it should be relatively easy to do so without dough sticking to your hands.

5. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place veggie balls on it.

6. Bake in 180°C degrees oven for about 25-30 min. When there are 5 minutes left I usually turn the balls around.

7. When the veggie balls are half way done, start on your sauce. Heat a medium sized pan with a table spoon of olive oil.

8. Once hot, add onions and garlic and sweat until translucent.

9. Add sliced red bell pepper and cook for few minutes.

10. Then add your tomatoes and all the spices. Cover with a lid and let it simmer down for about 8 -10 minutes.

11. When the veggie balls are done, remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before adding it to the sauce.

12. Add cream and rucola to your sauce and lower the heat. Simmer for additional 3 minutes.

13. Carefully add your veggie balls to the sauce and just simmer for few more minutes. Try not to stir too much.

14. Serve on top of whole wheat pasta or rice.

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