Here is an excellent lunch menu recipe for you. You can add a light salad to this if you like, and you will be ready to go!
I love making bean or vegetable balls. They are some of the best lunch or dinner dishes for a vegetarian. They are filling enough themselves, but in this menu recipe, I also wanted to add one of my favourite rice pilaf dishes, the one with coconut milk.
I got the inspiration from two different recipes to make these balls and rice pilaf, but I put my own twists. I used couscous with black beans because I like the texture of couscous in this kind of balls. The gluten-free alternative for couscous can be quinoa or a mixture of almond flour and breadcrumbs. Of course, all these substitutions will result in different textures and tastes themselves.
I used parmesan in the black bean balls, but if you want to make it vegan, you can substitute parmesan with grated vegan cheese. I made them once this way, and they were delicious too.
For rice pilaf, I just used regular long-grain rice. I recommend using all spices listed in the ingredients list and not making any change in the recipe, even if you don’t like some of those spices. For instance, I am not always the biggest fan of star anise, but in this recipe, star anise works perfectly because it is the combination of all flavours that make this rice so delicious.
Enjoy your meal!
(makes about 50-55 balls and 4 servings of rice)
For black bean balls:
2 packs (net 460 gr.) black beans, drained and washed well
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) couscous
1 large onion, diced
a large handful of fresh basil leaves
6 garlic cloves, mashed
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can use more if you like)
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) grated parmesan
For coconut milk rice:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
3 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 medium red onion, diced
2 green chilli peppers, diced
5 dl (or 2 cups) long-grain rice, soaked in hot water for at least 2 hours, then drained
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2 bay leaves
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) coconut milk
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) water at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 175C. Put baking paper on an oven tray.
- Spread washed and drained black beans on the baking paper in one layer. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, and they will get dry and start to crack. Take them out of the oven and set them aside. In the meantime, increase the oven heat to 200C and prepare another baking paper on the oven tray.
3. In a large bowl, put couscous and 2.5 dl (or 1 cup) hot water (doesn’t need to be boiling, hottest possible from the tap is fine). Let it sit for 5 minutes, then mix a little with a fork to give some air.
4. In a food processor, put black beans, onion, basil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, tomato paste and soy sauce. Process until you have a paste. You don’t have to make it very smooth; if some of the beans stay bigger, they will give a better texture.
5. Add the mixture to couscous, add parmesan and knead it all using your hand until you have an evenly mixed mass.
6. Take a little from the mixture and make balls, with a little smaller size than walnuts and put them on the baking paper. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until they get browned but not burned. Let the balls cool down a little, and then they will be ready to eat. I usually add one more step before eating the balls, which makes them crispier and more delicious. It is the same step as step 10 in this recipe: cauliflower and couscous balls I highly recommend!
7. Now, let’s make the rice. In a large but not too deep pan, put oil on medium-high heat. To that, add cardamom, mustard seeds, cloves, star anise, red onion and green chilli peppers. Saute this mixture until the onion becomes translucent.
8. Add drained rice, black pepper, salt and bay leaves and mix.
9. Add coconut milk and water, stir a bit, then cover with the lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook slowly until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes max. Check often to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. When ready, take away from the heat and let it rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the rice with black bean balls. Enjoy!