Veggie balls

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PRESENTATION

These veggie balls are a tasty, rustic main course popular with adults and children alike; crispy golden bites with a tasty and colorful filling of seasonal vegetables, all held together by cheese, eggs, and breadcrumbs, just the way that Grandma – who might even use them to stuff the meatloaf – used to make them. Veggie balls have long been a part of our country’s home-cooking tradition: from the need to feed the family with a tasty dish made from just a few rustic ingredients, to a mothers’ trick for getting their children to eat vegetables, we all have some sort of memory of this dish, which will take you right back to your childhood at first bite. Now that the boom that saw the rise in popularity of dishes that were often less healthy and more expensive is just a distant memory, we’re going back to a culture that’s more conscious of the need to reduce food waste as we rediscover simple dishes that incorporate leftovers. Of course, even though our recipe is for a “basic” veggie ball that uses the vegetables most commonly found in our kitchens, such as carrots, potatoes, and zucchini, we strongly recommend that you revisit it from time to time and tweak it with the seasonal vegetables you have in your garden (and refrigerator), such as mushrooms during the fall months, for example. That’s what these balls are all about, and there’s no more authentic or beautiful way to prepare and enjoy them.

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients for around 24 balls
Potatoes 12 oz (350 g)
Carrots 5 ½ oz (160 g)
Green beans 5 ½ oz (160 g)
Zucchini 5 ¼ oz (150 g)
Leeks 2 ½ oz (70 g)
Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese 1 cup (100 g)
Eggs 2 - medium
Garlic 1 clove
Parsley 1 bunch
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Nutmeg to taste
Black pepper to taste
Fine salt to taste
For breading
Breadcrumbs 0.3 cup (40 g)
Eggs 1 - medium
For frying
Peanut seed oil to taste
Preparation

How to prepare Veggie balls

To prepare the veggie balls, first heat a pan full of cold salted water and immerse the potatoes 1 after washing them thoroughly. Cook them for a long time, around 35-40 minutes, then peel while still hot 2, mash with a potato masher, and place in a large bowl 3.

Then move on to the other vegetables, starting by washing them. Next, cut the leek into small rounds 4, the carrots into ¼-inch (0.5-cm) cubes 5, and the green beans into small chunks 6.

Cut the zucchini into small cubes like the carrots 7 and, lastly, finely chop the parsley 8. Heat a large pan on the stove, and add the oil and the peeled clove of garlic 9.

As soon as the oil is flavored, remove the garlic and add in the leeks 10. Let for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots 11 and a minute later the green beans 12.

Finally, add the zucchini 13, season with salt 14 and pepper, and cook for around 10 minutes, making sure that the vegetables remain slightly crunchy (if they dry out too much while cooking, you can moisten them with a couple of tablespoons of water). When the vegetables are ready, mix well 15 and leave to cool.

Now take the mashed potatoes and add the grated cheese 16, the lightly beaten eggs 17, salt, pepper 18,

and nutmeg 19 to the same bowl. Add the now-lukewarm vegetables 20 and chopped parsley 21.

Mix thoroughly to obtain a mixture with the right consistency to work with 22 (if it is too soft you can add some more breadcrumbs, but don't overdo it or you risk making the balls too dry). Dampen your fingers and shape the balls, using around 1.75-2 oz (50-55 g) of mixture 23 for each. Place a bowl containing a beaten egg on the work surface, along with a tray of breadcrumbs. Dip each ball first in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs 24.

Keeping making balls until you run out of mixture 25. Next, fry the balls in plenty of peanut oil, preheated to 350°F (180°C), turning them gently on both sides until golden brown 26. Drain the balls and leave to dry on a paper towel before serving 27.

Storage

These veggie balls should be eaten fresh, but you can freeze them uncooked and fry them straight from frozen if you’ve used all fresh ingredients.

Tips

For an even crispier, tastier coating, try double-breading the balls: After dipping them in egg and breadcrumbs once, repeat the process by dipping them in egg and breadcrumbs a second time. This will take a few more minutes, but the result will be mouth-watering! If you prefer a lighter version, you can also bake the veggie balls in a conventional oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for around 40 minutes, but bear in mind that they won’t be as crispy!