Saturday, October 29, 2011

Iron Chef Challenge #4 - Carrot and oatmeal...balls

Today I'm taking a break from mystery pictures to participate in the Vegan MoFo 2011 Iron Chef Challenge #4.

The pictures on this post may not be superfantastic, but the recipe really is!  For those of my readers who are not all into Vegan MoFo, the challenge was to come up with an original recipe two of whose ingredients were carrots and oatmeal.

Well, I've been experimenting obsessively lately with "meatball" recipes inspired by Jennifer McCann's The Magical Loaf Studio, where you can input your ingredients of choice and come out with a recipe for a loaf (or in my case, balls) of protein-rich awesomeness.  So far, everything I have made has totally rocked, so check it out for yourself and go to town.

Just for the record, what I really like about the recipes that come from The Magical Loaf Studio is:

1.  The high protein content (from nuts, beans, AND powdered beans of one kind or another; plus my own original addition of TVP);
2.  The texture: my versions at least have a perfect, firm texture that holds together through baking, saucing, and freezing; and of course:
3.  The versatility: use the spice mix of your choice, more or less heat, different vegetables, etc.  The recipe I'm going to give here is basically original; you can't generate it from The Magical Loaf, but it's based on those proportions.

Today I made two kinds of balls, the first based on carrots, to satisfy the Challenge, and the second based on beets, just because I love beets.  Both were great; honestly, some of the best balls I've ever made.  Today I'll focus on the carrot ones.

Zoa's carrot-oatmeal balls
makes approximately 30 balls

1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 + 1/4 cup carrot juice
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked lima beans
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp urad flour
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander

1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp All-Season Blend (see sidebar)
1 cup dry TVP

For the beet version, make the following changes:

  • use plain cooked jasmine rice (i.e., you don't need to cook the rice in beet juice)
  • add 1/2 packed cup of grated raw beet to the onions and garlic for the last five minutes or so of cooking
  • use besan flour instead of urad flour
  • leave out the turmeric and the lime juice, but add a pinch of allspice to the spices
  • if you need to add extra liquid and don't have access to beet juice, then vegetable broth or carrot juice should work fine and/or add more grated beet to the onion mix, and/or a little raw finely grated beet at the end (I did, however, add 1/4 cup of beet juice to the mix which is I think what turned the beet balls their blinding violet hue)
Start by cooking the rice.  Pour 1 cup of the carrot juice into a small pot, add the turmeric, the rice, and the grated carrot, and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to simmer, and cook covered for about 12 minutes, until the rice is done.  Remove from heat and let cool a little:

This is really delicious, as is.

Meanwhile, sweat the onion and garlic in the canola oil until translucent.

In a food processor, grind the almonds into a sand-like consistency.  Add the cooked carrot-rice, 2 tbsp of the oatmeal, the urad flour, lima beans, the remaining 1/4 cup carrot juice, and all the spices, and pulse to mix well.  Turn into a bowl, and add the second 2 tbsp of oatmeal and the dried TVP.  Stir to mix, and set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the TVP to absorb some of the moisture from the surrounding ingredients.  The final mixture should be quite stiff:

Preheat the oven to 350F while you form the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a cookie sheet lightly oiled or covered with a silicone mat.  Brush or spray lightly with canola oil:

These are the beet balls, but the principle is the same.
Bake for about half an hour, turning at least three times to get them evenly browned.

Served above with a bechamel sauce, and steamed green beans and sweet potatoes and tomatoes with some leftover carrot-ginger dressing from the other night.  So, so good!  The carrot (or beet)/almond/jasmine rice/oatmeal combination made them sweet and savory all at once, and the texture was perfect, crunchy on the outside, soft but still firm on the inside. In fact, I would class both kinds of balls, beet and carrot, as "of genius" if I could take total credit for them myself. 

As for yesterday's mystery picture, those of you who guessed dried fruit of some kind were right on; it was golden raisins, way close up:


  1. whao.
    you blew me away with:
    cooking the rice in carrot juice
    urad flour
    and lima beans.

    i want to try these.
    but, i would really really really love to see the beet balls. the color on your balls was amazing. did you do the same thing, just with beet juice? and the bright red color is fast?


  2. Kittee, thanks for your input. I've updated the post to give instructions for the beet balls as well. To answer your questions briefly, for the beet version, I didn't cook the rice in beet juice but just started with plain cooked jasmine rice, and added grated beet to the onions and garlic; I did add about 1/4 cup of beet juice to the mix in the food processor. I'm not sure what you mean by fast, but it's real, no coloring agents were added other than beets and beet juice, nor did I alter the photographs to make it brighter. I've also added a photo of the cooled balls so the texture and final color of both kinds is easier to see than in the photograph of the whole plate.

    I had originally planned to make three kinds of balls, carrot, beet, and something green (kale?) but never did get the green ones organized. That would be so kewl on a plate though...

  3. These look AMAZING! I can tell already that I am too lazy to make these, though. However, people must have balls/patties on the brain, as you will see if you read the next post I am going to do.

    I still think you can take genius "cred" for these :).

  4. wow!!! And don't say your pictures aren't looks so good!!!

  5. Thsnks, Stacy and L'Acadienne! This was really fun to do, and I wish that these challenges could continue through the year!

  6. Woah, I'm so glad that you stopped by blog so I could discover yours :) These look so yummy, and I love that they're freezable. I had never heard of the Magical Loaf Studio but I've bookmarked it and I'll be sure to use it to make so many different things. Thank you, thank you!

  7. Yum, these look so awesome. THANKS for the inspiration!

  8. Thanks, Angela and Opera! The best thing about MoFo in my opinion is the opportunity it provides to get familiar with other blogs one might not normally come across. I'm very glad to be introduced to yours!

  9. Thank you! By fast, I just meant does the color remain as bright after cooking.

    I am stoked for your balls...