Splurged on sweets/fatty foods over the weekend? In need of a health kick? Something to ‘reset’ your batteries? Look no further than these Millet and Quinoa Balls. There’s not a bad bone in them. These saint-like morsels contain a triple threat of protein with not one but two ancient grains in the form of quinoa and millet, as well as yellow moong dahl (substitute with yellow split peas if necessary). There’s shiitake mushrooms, pumpkin and zucchini to cover your veggie bases, and barely a drop of oil/butter to speak of. Throw in an assortment of therapeutic herbs and spices for good measure, and you’ve got a groovy thing going on. Healthy and exploding with flavour? Oh my. We mustn’t forget the arame. ‘What on earth’s arame?’ you may ask. Good question. Arame is a Japanese sea vegetable (a.k.a seaweed) that is exceptionally high in calcium, iron and iodine, with easily digestible proteins. It looks like spindly black spider legs, however it’s far from harmful. Quite the opposite in fact. I promise.
You now know what goes into these healthy morsels, but how best to eat them? Why, you’ve a multitude of ways. The first step in making these balls is to cook all your bits and bobs up in a big pot. You then have two options – eat it as is (the consistency resembles a cross between a thick Dahl, fluffy couscous and a pilaf), perhaps topped with some stir-fry or steamed veg. Alternatively refrigerate overnight, shape into balls and bake the following day. If you’re prone to fence sitting you’re in luck as the mix is big enough to facilitate both options – have a bowl for tea that night and then turn the left overs into balls for the following evening.
When forming the balls be sure to squish the mixture tightly with your hands to ensure that it holds its spherical shape when baking. The quinoa and millet results in a fragile texture that is prone to crumbling, therefore whilst they would work as a starter (as long as you’re armed with a fork or spoon, or both, for that matter) I don’t recommend them as canapés! They work brilliantly for dinner/lunch served cold alongside a salad and a drizzle of homemade tahini dressing. They also pair particularly well with this Broccoli Salad with Asian Style Dressing. If you’re after a hot meal, then try them straight from the oven with roasted or steamed veg and a good grind of black pepper. Can you feel your healthy juices flowing yet?
The recipe may appear to be rather laborious and time consuming, however it produces at least 20 golf-ball sized ‘patties’, so is well worth the effort. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to finish them off in a few days, you needn’t be. They freeze exceptionally well and make a great packed lunch. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and you’re good to go the following day. Jam-packed with nutritious goodies, you can’t help but feel virtuous after eating a few of these!
Millet & Quinoa Balls
Makes at least 20 golf ball sized ‘patties’.
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 cup millet, rinsed
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
½ cup yellow moong dal, rinsed (substitute with yellow split peas if necessary)
1 L vegetable stock
8 shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed and finely diced
1 cup grated zucchini (roughly 1 small-medium)
1 cup grated pumpkin
1 heaped tblsp arame
3 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
Plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sesame seeds and poppy seeds for rolling
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onion over a low heat until soft and translucent. Tip in the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder and stir for one minute or until fragrant.
Now add the millet, quinoa and moong dal and stir to coat each particle in the oil. Pour in the stock then stir though the mushrooms, zucchini, pumpkin and arame. Simmer, stirring every so often, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the grains are just tender.
Place a lid on the saucepan and remove from the heat. Leave to sit for another 20 minutes or so, or until the grains are completely cooked. Stir through the chopped mint, chives and coriander. Season well with salt and pepper.
Remove the lid and place the pot on a wire rack. (Note: At this point you can also serve the mixture as a ‘risotto’ of sorts). Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two to three baking trays with greaseproof paper. Tip a decent amount of sesame and poppy seeds onto separate plates (or the same if you don’t mind a ‘mixed’ appearance).
Take a rough ¼ cup of the mixture and squish it firmly in your hands. Shape into a ball, by rolling in the palm of your hands. Roll in either the sesame or poppy seeds until lightly coated. Gently place on a prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving a few centimetres between each ball.
Bake for 15 minutes or until they begin to turn dark golden and the edges ‘firm/crisp’ up a little.
Serve warm or cold.
Source: Significantly adapted from Janella Purcell’s Eating the Seasons.