CAULIFLOWER + QUINOA BALLS

Veggie balls like these are so easy to throw together, especially with a small list of ingredients like I have here, I'm not sure why I don't make them more often! Since my Super Bowl snack post, I can't shake the cauliflower train. They're so super tasty and versatile, so why not? At the Union Square Whole Foods lunch buffet I saw these cauliflower quinoa balls sitting in a Romesco sauce, which is a Spanish, smoky sauce made from roasted tomatoes and red peppers. It was as yummy as it looked. I quickly tried a batch of my own but added chickpeas and a handful of herbs like parsley and basil to give it a fragrant falafel taste. Unlike a lot of falafel I have had, it was still fluffy and not too dense. While the cauliflower balls roast, I whisked up my tahini dressing. This dressing is super versatile and you'll be surprised at how well it goes with other dishes. Massage it into a chopped kale salad (like you'll see I do here), add it to seasonal roast veg, or try it with a cold steak and radish salad. Endless ways to work a tahini sauce and this is as good excuse as any to keep a batch on hand.  Feel free to try different sauces like buffalo sauce or a pesto which I think would complement the balls well. 

Hint - For a full balanced meal, I like to massage the tahini dressing into chopped kale, add the veggie balls, and top with more dressing. I'll toss over avocado, sunflower seeds, pepitas, dried cranberry or golden raisins and any extra chopped parsley and a splash of sambal or sriracha on top.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup dried quinoa (3 cups cooked)

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 organic eggs, whisked

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Small handful of parsley (basil and/or cilantro work well too)

extra-virgin olive oil, for baking

 

TAHINI DRESSING:

1/2 cup tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup warm water, plus extra

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

METHOD:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Drop a few glugs of olive oil on the paper and spread it around evenly with your hands. Cook your quinoa and follow directions on the package - I like the tricolor quinoa but any will do. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes, or until fork tender. Strain cauliflower and set aside. 

2. In a food processor, working in batches if necessary, add all ingredients except for the breadcrumbs and half of the quinoa. Pulse until thoroughly blended, but not a full on puree. I like mine a little chunky so I can see bits of cauliflower (Alicia likes it really chunky so there are even bigger bits of cauliflower in each ball).

3. Scoop the mixture into a large bowl. Add the remaining quinoa and breadcrumbs and mix up with a spatula. With a tablespoon measure, scoop out golfball sized balls and with your hands, roll them into a ball to place evenly on the tray. Wash your hands once or twice to avoid the balls sticking to your hands. Carefully place the tray on the middle rack and cook for 35 minutes. 

4. While your veggie balls bake and the house starts smelling nice, make your tahini dressing. In a bowl add all ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Add more water if necessary. Think a little thinner than pancake batter. Pour into a dressing container, cover and set aside or keep cold. 

5. Now assemble your bowl. In the same mixing bowl, add a few heaping handfuls of chopped kale. With your hands, massage in a few tablespoons of your tahini dressing at a time. Add the balls and top with more tahini dressing. Enjoy.