Hi folks! Long time no speak! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are feeling rested and ready for the new year.
I was busy busy busy working up until Christmas Eve so I definitely appreciated some time off. I didn’t actually do any cooking on Christmas Day as my brother & family hosted again this year and insisted on making a dish for me. They actually chose one of the recipes on my blog! That one’s good for any occasion so definitely give it a try if you haven’t already.
Today’s recipe is a nice change of pace from holiday fare and the endless desserts that seem to come at this time of year. It will ease you back into healthy eating nicely as well since it’s one of those meals that’s so rich and delicious you’d never guess it was good for you.
I adapted the meat-less balls from the lovely Dreena Burton’s recipe which I’ve made a few times as written and loved. They’re made from a combination of nuts, oats and vegetables and have a pretty darn authentic taste and texture, wonderful served in the traditional way with pasta and marinara sauce.
I decided to leave Italy behind with my variation and headed to the Middle East (yep, I’m predictable!)! With this chilly weather I’m unsurprisingly craving warming meals and the dose of fiery harissa does the job nicely. The rich sauce with chunks of melt-in-the-mouth pear, along with the fragrant spices, bring that sweet meets savoury quality I’m so fond of.
I loved this dish served over quinoa or couscous but any leftovers are also great stuffed in a pita with some salad and a dollop of herby non-dairy yogurt.
- 2 Tbsp Oil, divided
- 1 Medium onion, diced
- 1 Stalk of celery, diced
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Harissa
- 1-1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp Chili flakes
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Molasses
- 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1-1/2 C Walnuts
- 1 C Rolled Oats
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Harissa paste
- 1 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp Coconut sugar
- 1 x 400g/14oz Can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 C Water
- 2 Firm pears, peeled and cut into large wedges/chunks
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
- Ina large pan, sauté the onion and celery in 1 Tbsp oil for 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Add the harissa, smoked paprika, chili flakes and cinnamon and cook for a further minute.
- Transfer mixture to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture becomes crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again, just until the mixture becomes sticky.
- Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour and up to overnight. Take small spoonfuls of the mixture, and roll into compact balls (N.b. if the mixture is crumbly, add a dash of water).
- Heat the remaining Tbsp of oil in a large pan, add the balls and fry for 5-7 minutes, turning to brown all sides.
- In a medium pot, sauté the garlic over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the salt, harissa and smoked paprika and stir well. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, coconut sugar, tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for approx 30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened nicely. Add the pears and cook for a further 10 minutes, until just tender.
- Add the lemon and check for seasoning.
- Serve the meat-less balls in the sauce or topped with the sauce.
If you haven’t tried harissa yet I recommend picking up a jar – or making your own! It’s wonderful in soups and stews, spread on flatbread, stirred into hummus and more.
What foods and flavours are you craving right now?
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