Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

April 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

I haven’t been around here in quite some time, but I am back now and just in time for this Spring’s first peas. We have been using spring vegetables like asparagus and snap peas at work for about a month already, but they have been coming from Mexico or California. I guess my seasonal expectations have been artificially raised because I keep expecting to see these vegetables flooding the market. This week it was mostly greens. Lots of microgreens and lots of the kale and swiss chard we saw all winter. Everything looks so green and seasonally appropriate, but still lacking the particular items I look forward to eating for just a few weeks out of the year.

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

While there wasn’t a plethora of asparagus and peas, I did see one or two vendors selling asparagus and I  was able to grab one lone pint of shelling peas – this was just a half hour after the market opened so there could not have been many more to start out with. A closer look between the rows and rows of arugula and various rabes (broccoli, cabbage, kale) revealed another seasonal specialty: young allium. Ramps, young garlic and onions. They have the harsh flavor of the mature varieties, but it is still palatable and fresh tasting. You can find green onions at the grocery store year-round, but the flavor won’t compare to the in-season versions.

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas
Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

These early peas are completely crisp and so sweet. Tossed in warm rice, they are slightly cooked to become just a bit tender. Their juice pops for a sweet contrast in the sticky rice. Young garlic adds a strong, pungent yet fresh flavor that you can only find this time of year with allium that you can eat raw. Sesame and Sunflower seeds add some texture and the flavor of the sesame is enhanced by a creamy tahini dressing I whipped up.

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

Heidi from 101 Cookbooks posted the recipe for these rice balls about a month ago and I immediately wanted to make them. I have been crazy about rice over the last few weeks so it was the perfect time to add a new rice to my pantry. Despite my love for whole grains, brown rice rice hasn’t ever appealed to me as much as fluffy, perfectly steamed white rice. I have basically gone without rice for quite some time for this reason. Recently, something changed and I cannot get enough rice. Short-Grain Brown Rice, Brown Basmati Rice, Black Forbidden Rice and now Sweet Brown Rice have become regular pantry items.

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas

1 year ago, today: Rigatoni in a Cheddar-Goat Cheese Sauce with Braised Rabbit

Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas:
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
serves 6-8

– 2 cups sweet brown rice, soaked 1-8 hours if time permits
– 3 cups water
– 1/4 cup sesame seeds
– 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
– 4 oz green garlic, mince the white portions/thinly slice the green portions
– 2-3 oz shelled green peas (I started with 7 oz of peas including the shells)
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar

Tahini Dressing:
– 1/2 cup tahini
– 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Place rice and water in a saucepan with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce to a low heat. Let rice steam for 25-60 minutes (a longer soaking time will result in a shorter cooking time). Transfer rice to a larger bowl and fluff. Allow to cool slightly at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and add sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, green garlic, peas and rice vinegar. The rice should still be warm enough to ever so slightly wilt the vegetables. Combine the ingredients and taste to season. Set up your work station with 2 teacup-sized prep bowls and a sheet of parchment paper. Fill one prep bowl with water and place a generous square of plastic wrap over the second bowl. You will be placing any desired amount of the rice mixture into the bowl with the plastic wrap and then using the plastic to tighten it into a ball shape. Throughout this process, keep your fingers and the plastic wrap moist by dipping your fingers in the bowl with water in it. Place the shaped balls on the parchment paper. Combine all the ingredients for the tahini sauce and add water to thin (1/4 cup at a time) and serve rice balls with sauce.

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