Almond Chimichurri and Vegetable Quinoa Balls

by Maia Bedson

Spring 2015, Living Well Magazine

What a long, cold winter we have been experiencing here in the south.  Cold enough to seek warmer climates, which is what I will be doing when this magazine arrives in your letterbox!

Paul and I were invited to co-facilitate an MS retreat with Professor George Jelinek in a castle near Austria this September.  Yes, summer in Austria – very close to where ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed (which just happens to surely be the best film of all time).  As you can probably imagine, it took a full 30 seconds to contemplate the invitation and gladly accept.

And being the romantics we are, and not having been to Europe before, we have decided to arrive early and stay on a vineyard in the south of France before moving on to Paris, Turin (have to see the Shroud), Florence, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and then on to the castle in the Austrian countryside.  Perhaps there will be a moat and drawbridge which will stop us from being able to return and will give us an excuse to staying indefinitely? But I digress…

Since our feet are still on Australian soil for the time being, I have been contemplating what elements would bring together a delicious meal to celebrate the return of the earth towards the sun’s warmth and light.  The idea that came to mind was to make use of earthy vegetables grown deep in the soil alongside fresh, raw light flavours.

What I have come up with is Vegetable Quinoa Balls with Almond Chimichurri.

A protein-packed, super nutritious and flavoursome meal, that will delight all the senses; and impress your non-plant-based friends.

Quinoa is a seed which is a staple food in many South American countries, with the Incas revering it as a sacred crop and naming it the “Mother of all Grains”.  It contains all the essential amino acids and is so versatile in its uses.  And for those who have not tried it before, Chimichurri is a hot, green sauce that originates from South America where it is a much loved condiment.

This recipe ticks all the nutrient boxes: complete protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and loads of all the vitamins and minerals so far identified!

It’s also very adaptable recipe, so feel free to improvise and have fun experimenting with whatever vegetables you have on hand.

These balls travel well and make a great school lunchbox meal or workday lunch that will attract the praise (or envy) of your fellow students or colleagues.

Almond Chimichurri

“Enjoy the fresh flavours and colours and the South American-inspired dressing that will burst on your tongue.”

Ingredients
1 cup almonds, soaked in water overnight
3 tbsp flaxseed oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
½ tbsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp unrefined sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup washed, towel-dried and chopped coriander leaves
1 cup washed, towel-dried and chopped parsley

Method

In a food processor, place all the ingredients except the almonds, coriander and parsley and process until smooth. Stop a few times and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the almonds, coriander and parsley and blend just until almonds are broken into small pieces. Take care not to over process – you don’t want almond butter.

Set aside in a airtight container.

Vegetable Quinoa Balls

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 shredded carrot
1 shredded beetroot
1 small finely chopped leek
1 cup uncooked quinoa
Zest of two lemons
2 handfuls of fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tsp sweet paprika
Polenta for rolling balls in

Method

Rinse quinoa under running water then soak in fresh water for a few hours

Drain and rinse quinoa thoroughly under running water again

Add quinoa to saucepan with 1-1/2 cups fresh water and bring to the boil

Then reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed, approx. 20 minutes

Leave in the saucepan to allow the steam to continue to make it fluffy

Steam sweet potato until tender then place in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork

Add lemon zest, rosemary sprigs and sweet paprika and mix through

Set aside and allow flavours to infuse and mixture to cool

Grate carrot and beetroot into the sweet potato, add the finely chopped leek and mix through

Combine vegetable mixture and cooked quinoa with a fork

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius then set aside a bowl with polenta for forming the balls.

Place a spoonful of the vegetable and quinoa mixture into your hands, form into a ball then roll in the polenta to coat. Place on a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes

Serve vegetable quinoa balls on a bed of raw or lightly steamed greens such as spinach leaves, kale or lettuce.

Spoon a teaspoon of the almond chimichurri on top of the balls.

Maia Bedson

Therapist, Facilitator, The Gawler Cancer Foundation & Yarra Valley Living Centre

DipHol Couns, Grad DipCounsHS, Grad DipClinNut

Maia is a counsellor, meditation instructor, a practitioner of various forms of natural therapies who has worked in the area of energetic healing for over 20 years and has worked at The Gawler Cancer Foundation since 2000. She has a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Nutrition as well as formal qualifications in plant-based nutrition, counselling and psychotherapy. Maia uses her various skills and the experience gained from her own healing to inspire and support others on their path to wholeness and has a particular interest in helping people to access their own inner wisdom.