Italian Chickpea “Meatballs” with Herbed Tomato Sauce

IT’S MARCH MADNESS BABY!!!!

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I’ve gone completely off the deep end. Mike doesn’t even know how to handle my new-found love of all things basketball. But tell me there’s $100 at stake, and I take shit seriously.

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I joined the NCAA pool at work, and in my determined fervor to not lose, I spent (no joke) 3 hours cramming college basketball knowledge into my previously sports-neutral brain. I studied stats. I read player analysis and game predictions from various sports writers. I compared different brackets online and looked into why a team was chosen over another and whether it was the best choice.

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What this experience teaches us is that I am highly motivated by prize money. I won’t say how my bracket is doing, because I’ve also developed a bit of a serious superstition problem, but I will say I’m going through withdrawals at the moment since the games don’t continue until Thursday. Like I said, Mike is wondering who I am and what I’ve done with the real Jen.

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But really – she cooks AND she likes basketball? He’s not complaining.

What You Need:

  •  1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • IMG_135315 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium eggplant cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Combine the tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic in a large dutch oven or baking dish and bake, covered, for about 45-60 minutes. It’s done when the veggies are soft and cooked through with their juices at the bottom of the dish.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, egg, all the spices and the cornmealand blend until well-combined. This is your “meat”ball dough.

Scoop the dough out of the food processor and form into small round balls. Set aside.

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Once the tomato and eggplant mixture is done baking, scoop out the veggies using a slotted spoon to separate them from the juices.

In the food processor, blend the tomato and eggplant mixture until it becomes a chunky sauce.

Pour the sauce into a slow cooker and add the chickpea balls.

Cook on low for 1-2 hours (I cooked for 2 hours and kept on warm for another hour while I was at work).

Serve over baked spaghetti squash and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

And I will say that some of the “meat”balls did break apart in the crock pot (just a bit) but all that happens is the tomato sauce turns into a delicious “meat”sauce. YUM.

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Black Bean, Chickpea and Zucchini Veggie Burgers with Curried-Honey Glazed Tri-Color Carrots

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There’s nothing better than a summer meal. Like really nothing at all. There’s just something about that wonderful smell wafting from the grill from flame-kissed summer veggies that makes every slow sunset better than the last.

I’m not going to lie, it’s super hard right now for me to do anything after work besides come home, throw on my apron, turn up my Spotify playlist, crack a bottle of wine and get to cooking. It doesn’t always work out that way, but tonight it did (sans the wine – trying to be responsible!)

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My longtime desire to create a veggie burger recipe that actually works on the grill without falling horribly apart has finally been realized, along with my longtime desire to cook tri-color carrots.

I know, small victories.

Anyways, on to the perfect summertime recipe.

IMG_4046What You Need:

For the burgers:

  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the carrots:

  • 1 bunch tri-colored carrots (I found mine at Trader Joes, but I KNOW they’ll have them at the farmer’s market eventually)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp honey

What You Do:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Set aside 1 cup of the cooked quinoa for this recipe and use the rest for whatever!

Mix the honey and the curry powder and brush over the carrots. Lay the carrots out on a large piece of lightly oiled tin foil. Wrap tightly and place on the top shelf of the grill. They’ll need about 45 minutes to an hour to cook fully, and they will be ready to eat when they’re very soft.

IMG_4050Drain and rinse the black beans and chickpeas.

In a food processor, load in the two cans of beans and the rest of the ingredients.

Pulse gently until the mixture is coarsely ground. If it seems too loose and won’t make burgers that feel fairly solid, add additional panko until the mixture is thicker and forms burgers without trouble and without globbing all over your hands (I have no better way to describe this).

Lay burgers out of a piece of lightly oiled foil and place on the grill. Let the burgers cook about 5 minutes on each side and flip them four times.

Toast your burger rolls of choice or just eat the burgers bun free! I topped them with ketchup and mescalin mix.

Pro Tip: Make these gluten-free by substituting the panko for a gluten-free bread of your choice (just chop it in the food processor ahead of time).

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