These petite spicy balls are vegetarian and make an unusual autumn appetizer.
Serve with a commercially prepared green pepper sauce, such as Tabasco brand Green Pepper Sauce, for dipping.
Servings: 16 balls
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for frying the sage leaves
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion (from about 1/2 a medium onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons chopped sage leaves, plus 16 whole sage leaves, for garnish
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten (may substitute 1/4 cup silken tofu)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning sage leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray. Line a plate with several layers of paper towels.
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan or skillet. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic and chopped sage, and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the pumpkin puree, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper, and stir to thoroughly combine.
Use your clean hands to roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Transfer the balls to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the balls are lightly browned.
Fill a large pan with 1/8 inch of oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the sage leaves, spreading them evenly in one layer. Cook for 20 to 30 seconds, until the leaves are brittle but still bright green, then transfer them to the paper towels to drain. Season with salt.
To serve, arrange the balls on a serving platter. Insert a sage leaf into the top of each ball, tilting it at an angle. Serve alongside the green pepper sauce, for dipping.
Adapted from a recipe by Mian Catalano.
Tested by Nilar Andrea Chit Tun.
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