Asian Nuggets with Sauteed Greens & Tahini Sauce . Sprouted Kitchen

“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.”
―Anne Lamott

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 Greens & Tahini Sauce . Sprouted Kitchen


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

Asian Nuggets with Sauteed Greens & Tahini Sauce . Sprouted Kitchen

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

Asian Nuggets with Sauteed Greens & Tahini Sauce . Sprouted Kitchen

Reader Comments (57)

Your lentil meatballs are one of my favorite recipes from your cookbook, I can't wait to try these too!

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Delicious gems!

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

I am new to your site, and though I love the look of your recipes it's your words that hit me in the heart. So thank you for the honesty, it's beautiful and refreshing. Wishing you and your growing family all of the happiness!

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoseann

Life can be really overwhelming, right? But it's also SO good. Think back 5 years, and did you know things would be this great? Bask in the greatness and glory :)

I love all of your veggie 'meat'balls! Keep 'em coming.

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

Just ordered you a new Anne Lamott title. The danger/benefit of having your address in my Amazon ship list.

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkels

I remember that fear while reading birth books quite well. But lying here next to my sleeping 16 month old it seems a distant memory. So silly, yet so valid. This recipe looks amazing, and like something my little toddler would devour.

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

So Much Delicious Thanks for sharing !

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNaturopath treatment

I have been trying to think of another creative vegetarian option for my restaurant and this just became my inspiration! Genius!

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Also, do you have any suggestions for a binder beside egg to make this recipe vegan?

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

This sounds fabulous. I love the recipe for the little "nuggests"!

I can't wait to try these. Your lentil meatball recipe is one of my favorites and I think these little nuggets would be delicious served with the warm bowls of vegetable heavy goodness I've been preparing each night. Partly because I'm lazy but mostly because Is there anything more satisfying than a bowl of quinoa topped with sautéed/roasted vegetables? YES. Bowls topped with Asian nuggets.

Also, we're in the same boat this week. Minus the whole baby crib thing because I have very small wedding dress I need to fit into. BUT! The whole offer on the house thing is making me crazy. The suspense is eating away at me and anytime I get an email or a text, I hope to the winds it's our realtor saying the sellers accepted the offer. But the prospect of owning a house? A place where we can put holes in the wall and not give a s#!t about getting our security deposit back? Totally worth it.

Sending lots of good juju your way, lady. XO

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshlae

reading about your feelings makes me feel a little more okay, too.

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentershanna mallon

These look tantalizing and unique...a definite will try!

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGoddess J

This looks like a yummy recipe, though I'd leave out the mushrooms as my family just doesn't really like mushrooms. With a now 13-year old, it is still nice to have recipes that one can freeze and whip out for a quick meal. As you appear to be preparing to become a mom (congratulations!) and you already quoted Anne Lamott, I'd like to recommend you read her book Operating Instructions (if you haven't already). It was recommended to me shortly after my daughter was born and I found it very helpful in keeping me grounded and giving me perspective during those early months. If you haven't already read it, get it and have it handy to read after the baby arrives (I would sit in my rocker and nurse my baby, and after she fell asleep I'd just sit there with her with my glass of water, the phone within reach, and read a book). The other thing I suggest to anyone about to have a baby is that rather than having people buy you lots of cute little outfits that your baby will outgrow in minutes, or 6,000 stuffed animals, ask them to bring you food and meals -- that is absolutely the best gift to a family with a new baby. My sister-in-law stayed with us the week after my daughter was born and she cooked up huge batches of soup and manicotti which she froze in batches and it was a total life-saver during those first couple of months.

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I've never really been into vegetarian recipes, but am starting to be inspired and I have to say your blog is one of my favourites! Different-from-the-norm recipes and stunning photos, I can't wait to try some of your food!

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChloe

First off these nuggets look delicious, looking forward to trying them out.

Secondly, as a long term reader of your blog I feel like I know you.. so wanted to just echo what some other new moms have said to hopefully help put you at ease! I had my first baby 9 weeks ago and I agonized (AGONIZED!) for months with fear, mainly surrounding labor and delivery. In the end it was a wonderful experience, something I'd do again in a heartbeat, and that fear is a very vague memory. Don't listen to other people's stories, don't read too much and don't get hung up on what class you should be taking or method you should be subscribing to. It's the most natural thing in the world and when push comes to shove (no pun intended!) your body knows what to do. You;ll be amazing.

Keep up the amazing blog, I just love your recipes and your cookbook.


January 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Shaw

Wise words and pretty photos. I usually try to fry balls like this and it just becomes a mess, so good idea to bake them. Good luck with the baby and the house and all of it. And thanks for writing from the heart... nice to know I'm not the only one who worries!

January 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in New York

@Kerry Shaw - thank you, lovely. Oh i just cant wait to be on the other side. It's so hard to not be scared when I have NO idea what it's like. Clinging to the women who have told me its not nearly as bad as they'd made it in their mind. Congrats to you and your little one and thanks for the note!

January 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

These sound fabulously delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I can't wait to try it. And good luck with the adult decisions :)

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBec

I remember how crazy all the new-house stuff was when we did it last year but to do it at the same time as growing a little person? I can't even begin to imagine what that's like. Sending lots of good vibes your way. Love the sound of these little flavourful bites of goodness.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Yum these look like tasty little nuggets. Can't wait to try!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHaley

It WILL all be okay. Love you guys!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMollie

Oooooh - YAY!! I love things like this that I can make ahead, freeze, and eat over a few weeks. Your lentil balls are a family favorite of the veggie girls in our house (myself and my 12-year-old daughter). We eat them once a week or once every other week, without fail. We usually top them with marinara for our pasta night and they are A>M>A>Z>I>N>G!! It's perfect for busy families who are always going in opposite directions and trying their best to squeeze in a good family meal time!

Oh and just to let you know….I adore your recipes. Your lemon herb hummus is also a weekly staple for me! I can't get enough. :D

Hope you are doing well and having a smooth pregnancy. Many hugs to you!! It will all be okay and everything will work out well. Be sure to make time to sit quietly and just breath. Are you taking a pregnancy yoga class at all? I highly recommend it if you can swing it as just hearing someone tell you to quiet your mind (and the practice of it), let your worries melt away, and only listen to your breath can be very soothing. That singular focus helps all the other things subside for a while and really does wonders for peace of mind. Wish I lived close by… you'd be welcome at my class any time. xo

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Cohen

My yoga teacher told me (she might have been quoting from somewhere) that worry is the work of pregnancy. I worried a lot and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be on the other side having given birth and then raising a baby. But my son is almost 8 months old and as much as I want to tell you that everything will work out (and it will!!), I think it is one of those things you have to discover for yourself. Remember to trust yourself and you will find your way.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

That Anne Lamot quote is wonderful and I think it is so so true that as adults we just acquire these tools to deal with what life throws us. Although, especially when things get really scary, stressy etc. what gets me through is knowing I have no other choice but to deal with whatever is happening - although that itself can be a scary thought, I actually find it quite empowering. Also, knowing that in hindsight it will likely seem that things weren't that bad at all (or if they were at least now they are over).

As for these Asian Nuggets? Dang I love the idea. I have shared your original recipe with my entire family, they were included as part of 2013's Christmas Eve spread and they regularly feature in my kitchen - just 2 days ago I made tiny ones, Moroccan-spiced and, once cooked, added them to a Moroccan tomato sauce to make a vegetarian twist on a meatball tagine. Will have to give this version a whirl next!

Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys for the house!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSophia

I made these last night- so delicious! I substituted oat bran for the breadcrumbs and they turned out wonderfully. I froze several to prep easy lunches to bring along on my commute to grad school and suspect they'll be delicious on top of a salad with your tahini sauce as a dressing. Thanks, Sara!!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

Oh friend!! That's a lot. I too fall into the worry category. I always want to know the outcome before I make the decision but sadly life doesn't work out that way. All I know is from experience and from that I've learned that it always seems to work out. Read some parenting books then treat your worrying brain to something light. I read so. many. books and think that I spent too much time trying to be the parent in the books and forgot that I get to just be me. You'll figure it out. I can't wait to hear more about the house!!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Gosh, being an adult is super weird, isn't it? My husband and I got married last year. We are starting to move into our careers and making plans for where we want to be one, two, five years down the road. It's tough and confusing and thrilling and I love and hate it all at once. So much luck to you guys when it comes to getting the house. How exciting!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJade Sheldon-Burnsed

Congratulations! My 6 month old son is asleep on me right now. I was also freaked out about giving birth, but I told myself it would be such a relatively short blip in my life, and when it was over I'd have a baby to show for it. Believe it or not, I found myself telling people for weeks afterward that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Must have been hormones.

Anyway, my lifesaver food when he was just born was a supply of banana bread I made ahead and froze. I sliced each loaf when I took it out so I could grab a piece and jam it in my mouth when possible. Food you can eat with one hand and minimal prep is key with a newborn.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Lydia, I laughed when I read your post because I chose to omit from my earlier post -- not wanting to go on too long -- that I also had put some fruit breads (I think mine were banana and pumpkin) in the freezer that I also found very helpful as a quick and easy snack I could eat (with one hand, while I was holding the baby!).

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I just wanted to pop in and recommend the book "Waiting for Birdy" by Catherine Newman. I found her sense of humor about the absolute amazingness and craziness of having a baby a total relief for my worrying mind while I was pregnant and I am still re-reading it 16 months after the birth of my bub. Good luck on the house!

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine Swan

I don't know if this would be of help. I used LaMaze with all three of my kids, and actually still use the breathing techniques when I have pain or am afraid -- twenty-plus years later! -- but one thing that helped me a lot with the second and third births was repeating this mantra that I read somewhere: "Pain is anxiety caused by fear." Now, in my opinion, pain is also physically real; but for me, I noticed that when I got afraid, sometimes the pain got worse. And of course, we all get afraid sometimes. When I was in labor, I found that repeating this phrase slowly, with deep breaths in between, really helped me through a couple of not-easy situations. So if it could be of help, I thought I'd pass it on.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Covington

These look great -- like an Asian version of the falafel! Definitely going to give these a try.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ Parsley In My Teeth

These sound awesome! Very excited to try these.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Amazing recipe. In love with it. I am gonna surely try for it :)

January 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Nicolson

Anne Lamott has been my guiding light lately, reminding me how okay it is to be messy and human when I just feel overwhelmed and in over my head! So though the specifics of my own worries are different, I feel ya, lady, big time. You're awesome. And I want to eat the heck out of these.

January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

Hi Sara I agree with you that all veggie balls need a good sauce. I recently made some Romano bean burgers with cumin that were good, healthy, but slightly blah. What kind of sauce do you use for bean burgers usually? BTW I love this Asian twist on the lentil meatballs, will def give them a try.

January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

@Anita - depends how I plan on eating them (between a bun? On salad?). Ill do a creamy yogurt herb dressing for salads, I like tahini sauces, guacamole always helps too!

January 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

Just had to report back and tell you we made these for dinner a couple of nights ago and successfully substituted the eggs with flax eggs and brown rice with quinoa. They turned out perfect. You = nugget queen.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshlae

@Ashlae - flattered! Thanks, friend :) Glad to know the sub worked.

January 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

These look so good, I can't wait to make them!
I had a question about the dressing, I was able to find miso but only in large quantities. Do you have an recommendations on a substitute or if I do buy some of the paste how I can use it up or if you have ever tried freezing it?

Thanks so much. Your blog is so lovely and everything I have tried has been so flippin' delicious!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

@Tricia - yea, the tubs are pretty large and a little goes a long way. Because of its salt content, it lasts for a long time. The code date on mine was almost a year out at purchase. It's great in dressings, sauces, soup... I think you'll be glad you have it. Keep an eye on other healthy food-ish blogs, they use it often. Has tons of flavor.

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

These look delicious! I especially love a recipe that I can make and freeze. Thanks!

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

I made these the other night and the flavor was very good but the batter was very wet and wouldn't shape into balls. I ended up pan frying them into patties instead. Do you have any recommendations for this? Should I only use 1 egg? I would like to try them again!

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

@Andrea - I found mine needed 2 eggs to stay together firmly, but you could totally get away with one. We're your rice, lentils and all other ingredients completely dry and cool? That would add excess moisture. Also try letting the mixture rest for awhile in the fridge and the rice will absorb some of it. Hope that helps!

January 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

Mmmm...this looks delicious! Would you recommend serving it with brown rice or something?

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTess @ Tips Healthy Living

First time reader of your blog and I am drawn to something I never do.....comment.

Your opening quote and paragraph was the most compelling short story. Every word was saturated with information, feeling, and intrigue. I so want to know more of your story and how it comes out....but you have given me more than enough to know that any rust in your "toolbox" has been worn way with use and good care. Evey father in the world hopes their adult son or daughter will someday value and solicit their counsel.

Meanwhile, jump on in...the water is fine. The joy out-weighs the trouble, and the trouble makes the joy more sweet. And....the recipe looks great too...count me as your newest fan.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hello Ashlea - unusual looking recipe and very tempting nuggets. Definitely gotta try this recipe out some time :)

February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

This post was just lovely, so I made these with excitement! The nuggets were too sticky and required extra crumbs, then they baked up well but tasted too dry and bland-- required additional sauce. I do love the idea of the meal, though, and will likely tweak it in the future. It made a lot of nuggets-- could be a party appetizer!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAN

Sounds awesome! I can't wait to (try to) make this!

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