“It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
I feel very adult this week. We bought a crib and we made an offer on another house and our health care got more complicated and expensive and I'm trying to read books about birth without my chest tightening so much I feel faint and that quote makes me feel better about the normality of all this. There is a beautiful mess in the figuring out of things. I'm scared. About everything, and mostly without reason, but when I do get stressed, I can typically trace it back to fear. Fear of failing, of loosing or of being in pain. My dad met with me a few nights back so I could show him my numbers for our potential house purchase and he could confirm it was a good idea... at least on paper. I think I just wanted his blessing for the biggest purchase of our lives, even if this whole thing doesn't go through. I get a lot of my worry tendencies from my dad, and it felt nice to have someone of like mind, 30 years ahead in this game, tell me it was going to be OK. Maybe we'll have super tight months or there will be a huge leak in the floor or our new neighbor will be creepy or maybe this will be the house we slowly make ours and grow old in, but no matter how the story goes, it will all be OK. How come that is so easy to overlook? Today, I will believe it.
A sweet mom-to-be asked me for a few suggestions on freezer meals she could prepare in advance while waiting for her wee one to arrive. I realized that while clicking through our site, I don't have many options. A good handful of breakfast baked goods that could freeze well, but a limited amount of stone cold meals as I look back. I had a pretty good response to the lentil meatballs from years ago which also made it into the last cookbook, so I figured I'd try something similar to that. In the same way I make my veggie patties, I start with nearly a 1:1 ratio of cooked grains and legumes (in this case, brown rice and lentils) and then I build from there. Always garlic. Usually onion, either raw or cooked. I use egg to help bind here, but I'll often use cheese for binding power as well. I blitz in a ton of herbs, a cooked vegetable and bold spices and flavor to doctor them up. For this Asian nugget, I went with soy sauce, sesame seeds and chili sauce. Miso would be great in there too but I wanted to save that for the sauce. All veggie balls need a good sauce. A veggie ball is really only good with a sauce, if you ask me, but I think you could put them along with anything that sounds good to you.
ASIAN NUGGETS WITH SAUTEED VEGGIES + TAHINI SAUCE // Serves 4-6
The Asian nuggets can be completely cooled and frozen in plastic bags until needed. I got about 26 nuggets. This just leaves you with needing to prepare veggies and sauce which could be whipped up in 15 minutes.
As for substitutes, I think you may be able to replace the egg with flax meal and a little water but they may come out a little drier. To keep them gluten free, replace the panko with a coarse oat flour but note they will be more delicate to work with. If going the GF route, I would try to keep the egg in, if possible, to keep everything together.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 a yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons sambal oelek (chili paste)
- 2 cups cooked and completely cooled brown rice
- 1 1/2 cup cooked and cooled lentils (a few varieties will do though I'd avoid red and green, they get too soft)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- pinch of salt
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- / veggies /
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, as needed
- 3 green onions, roughly chopped
- 5 ounces shitake mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
- 1 head broccoli
- splash of rice wine vinegar
- pinch of sea salt
- / tahini sauce /
- 1 minced clove garlic
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 teaspoons white or yellow miso
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice or splash of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375'. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, onion, eggs, sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce and chili paste and pulse a few times until the onion and garlic are well chopped. Add the rice, lentils, panko, cilantro, pinch of salt and pulse a few more times until just combined. You want to still distinguish nubs of rice, but it should look pasty enough that you could roll it in a ball. Let the mix sit for ten minutes.
Roll the dough into 2'' balls and line them up on the baking sheet. Brush them with a thin coat of oil and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Bake on the middle rack for 15-18 minutes until browned and dry on the outsides.
For the veggies, in a large skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the green onions, mushrooms and a pinch salt and saute for 4-5 minutes until just softened. Roughly chop the broccoli and add it to the pan along with a splash of rice vinegar and saute another 5-10 minutes until softened to your taste.
For the sauce, whisk all ingredients together until smooth and set aside. The sauce can be made up to three days in advance and kept covered in the fridge.
Assemble your meal with a scoop of veggie, some asian nuggets and a generous drizzle of tahini sauce.
* All photos in this post were shot with film