Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rice balls with chickpeas

Thank you, very much, for your congratulations and kind words on my last post. It has been really exciting sharing the news and Mr Bite and I both enjoyed reading your comments. Thank you :-)

Today, we have a post that is far more normal in its focus. It's nonetheless a post that I have been looking forward to writing, because it is the result of a recipe idea that entered my mind and got stuck.


I think I've mentioned these sorts of experiences before. Sometimes, I know not why, recipe ideas waft to me and then captivate my imagination until I get around to making them. Today's recipe started out with one idea: rice balls. I have never eaten rice balls and can't think back to what might have started this train of thought. Nonetheless, the idea arrived and then continued on to include chickpeas and tahini.

Rice, chickpeas and tahini would be a bit lacking as an ingredient list, but I wasn't initially sure what else to add to round things out. Then I saw Lisa's post on cauliflower rice at Bake Bike Blog and my imagination flared up again. Rice balls with chickpeas and tahini, cauliflower, celery, lemon and parsley. Yes, that was it.

Yesterday, the ingredient list moved from imagination to creation. There is something so very fun about taking to the kitchen with no recipe, no formal plan, just one's ideas and some optimism about them turning out. Even if the resulting product doesn't turn out, it is a wonderful way to pass an hour or two.


I am pleased to say that in this instance, things did work out. There is definitely scope for tweaks (more on that below) but the product was enjoyable and one I expect I'll make again.

The flavours were reminiscent of falafel, as would be expected, but the overall experience was quite different to eating falafel. The rice gave a beautiful texture. The cauliflower and parsley made things lighter and fresher than traditional falafel balls, and contrasted well with the rice. The lemon and tahini flavours were just detectable and the balls survived being reheated in the microwave (I was worried they might go soggy).


What would be the tweaks I alluded to? My imaginary rice balls were crispy all the way through, whereas these were crispy on the outside but quite soft and slightly crumbly within. As it turns out, I quite enjoyed that, but it did mean that the texture was more like a veggie patty than the rice balls I was imagining. Adding more rice might help to keep the balls firmer, or of course they could be made as patties rather than balls.


Rice balls with chickpeas

Adapted from my imagination, with inspiration from Lisa's cauliflower rice
Makes 20 - 30 balls, depending on how large you make them
Vegan


Ingredients
1/3 cup brown rice (uncooked)
~2 cups cauliflower florets
420g tin chickpeas, drained (~1 1/2 cups)
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tbsp unhulled tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Black pepper, to taste


Method
Preheat oven to 180'C.

Cook rice according to packet instructions (I used the absorption method on the stove-top), until just cooked.

Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until the mixture resembles rice - about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas and process until just mashed and the ingredients are combined.

Transfer the cauliflower-chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Add the celery, tahini, lemon juice, basil and parsley and mix well to combine. Add the cooked rice and stir through.

Form rough balls using your hands or a spoon; mine were slightly smaller than golf balls. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper and sprinkle with black pepper. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until the balls are crisp on the outside.


Processed cauliflower and chickpeas
The mixture before being balled...
...and after
Nearly cooked
Finished

All in all, quite a satisfying way to spend an hour on a Saturday.

Have you had any imagination-driven recipes lately?

Or have you made rice balls previously - do you have any favourite varieties? 

24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you - and thanks for providing some of the inspiration!

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  2. I am entirely in. I have recently become re-obsessed with tahini, chickpeas, and cauliflower, so woooooot! Our minds are still melding, even if your whole engaged-married things is going to lead you places away from me. *sticks out tongue* ;)

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    1. Woot indeed - I love our melding-ness :) And I'm not going to be led far! In fact, knowing my inability to properly grow up, you'll probably notice no change at all :P

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  3. I love all of those ingredients and I'm sure they would work really well together. Great recipe! xx

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  4. Your rice balls are filled with things I love so I am sure I would love them - for a moment I thought you were going to get very clever and have riceless rice balls with cauliflower rice. I have eaten rice balls at hippy dippy cafes before that are quite crunchy outside and have things like carrot and hijiki in them and I would love to find a recipe for them (but they are still soft inside).

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    1. Riceless rice balls really would be something wouldn't they? Maybe next time :) Now you've got me thinking about carrots as an ingredient too - I think I'd love that.

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  5. I love any recipe that sneaks chickpeas in. I imagine these would be good with salad.

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    1. They were! I ate them that way for lunch today :)

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  6. oh this is such a fun and creative recipe! glad it worked out!

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  7. Yum! How cool is it to put chickpeas and cauliflower together! :)

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    1. It was a surprisingly good combination :)

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  8. Oh, very interesting recipe. I wasn't expecting them to be baked, more deep fried like risotto balls. Last night we had an interesting time experimenting with making our own taco spice mix when we didn't have a packet in the cupboard. Came out very tasty if really very hot!

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    1. Oh how fun (if hot!) - and something I have never done. I am not even sure where I'd start actually. Paprika? Or straight up chilli? Beyond that I am stuck!

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  9. Gosh, tried making a sweet potato patty with tuna on the weekend and it turned into a slice - too sloppy - those rice and cauliflower balls look great!

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    1. I like the idea of a sweet potato patty with tuna even if it did go sloppy! The flavours would be great. Sometimes these things are all about trial and error :)

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  10. Oh man...those sound pretty tasty! Very creative!!

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  11. These look delicious!
    What a fun and creative recipe. Bookmarking this for sure. :)

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    1. Thanks Kristen - and thanks for stopping by :)

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  12. have to cut straight to the CONGRATS!!! super exciting for u both! :)

    and i have to say i wish i had ur same creativity when it comes to anything in the kitchen, but alas i'm not...so here i am drooling over ur creations...hehe. :) looks tasty!

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    1. Thank you for the congratulations! It has been amazingly exciting. I used to have no creativity in the kitchen at all but I think once I started, I just fell in love with it. There are still lots of bad outcomes though :P

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