CHESTNUT, SAGE AND APRICOT STUFFING BALLS
I created this recipe a few years ago for Hemsley + Hemsley as part of a delicious vegetarian “nut roast” of sorts, and since then it’s a recipe I’ve gone back to again and again for Christmas as stuffing, canapé bites and as part of the epic vegetarian main.
This year, I tweaked it a little, swapping the ground almonds for chickpea flour as another wheat flour alternative that’s naturally gluten-free, as widely available as ground almonds and cheaper to boot. For vegans and vegetarians who rely on nuts as substitutes throughout their favourite dishes it’s a welcome change — too many nuts can feel heavy and hard to digest, and while I love an almond, you can definitely have too much of a good thing!
This recipe makes about 12 balls of stuffing, perfect for soaking up gravy. If you want the stuffing to be more of a main event or to even bake it ‘meatloaf style’ then increase the chickpea flour and seasoning and when the mixture is cool enough to handle add an egg or two which will help bind plus make for a more moist and juicy stuffing.
50g ghee, butter or coconut oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
125g organic unsulphured dried apricots, rough chopped
200g cooked chestnuts, rough chopped
10 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
100g gram flour (AKA chickpea/besan) flour
¼ tsp sea salt plus more to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
Heat the ghee, butter or coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion lightly for a few minutes so that it still has bite.
Add the apricots, chestnuts and sage and cook for a further minute.
Add the chickpea flour and cook for a further 5 mins
Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside to cool a little.
Preheat the oven to fan 170°C/gas mark 5.
When the mixture is cool enough to handle, take a 2 tbs of the mixture, squeeze lightly and shape into balls.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
East by West tip: You can also bake the stuffing in a dish or use as part of a meat roast, making sure that the chickpea flour is cooked through.
If you want the stuffing to really hold you can also add an egg to the mixture to bind it.