Instead of all the pumpkin and apple baking that I should be doing, I’ve been going a little quinoa crazy! I have been using it in everything from salad (coming soon!) to these Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs.
I just can’t get enough!
I used to think of homemade, Italian meatballs as an occasional indulgence, but these quinoa meatballs are so easy to pull together and healthy that they are sure to become a regular dish instead!
These chewy, substantial, vegetarian meatballs are packed with Italian flavors. The fresh herbs and cheese make you forget that there is no meat to be found, and the quinoa creates a texture that is reminiscent of meat.
I take the extra step of pan searing before baking them to give them the nice crunchy, seared exterior that is characteristic of a traditional Italian meatball.
Whether or not you are vegetarian, you and your family will love these easy meatless meatballs! Serve several with whole-wheat noodles, homemade red pasta sauce, and a generous sprinkling of Asiago cheese! So toothsome and satisfying, you’ll never even miss the meat!
You might want to make a double batch because they’ll be gone before you know it!
You can also make the meatballs ahead of time and either freeze them or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. I like to reheat the meatballs in a pot of tomato sauce to keep them moist. Dinner is ready when the sauce and meatballs are heated through!
These easy Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs are packed full of traditional Italian spices and two types of cheese! They are first pan seared and then baked for a beautiful crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior. So toothsome, you will never even miss the meat!
2 cups cooked quinoa [instruction below]
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup asiago cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
3 small garlic gloves, minced fine
1 large egg
2 large pinches kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 pinch to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
To make the Quinoa:
In a fine sieve strainer, pour 1 cup quinoa, pick over for stones, and rinse with cold water. In a medium saucepan mix the quinoa with 2 cups cold water (or broth). Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil and a large pinch of kosher salt, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stir, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for approximately 30-40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is soft.
To make the meatballs:
Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat a large cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat until searing hot.
Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour a little olive oil into the preheated skillet. Form a meatball a little smaller than a golf ball and place the meatball in the skillet starting in the center. Working as quickly as possible, repeat with the remaining meatballs, radiating them out from the center in a spiral pattern. [You could certainly pre-form all the meat balls and have them ready for this step, but I am all about cutting out wasted time, and that, is wasted time.]
Once you have finished placing all the meatballs in the skillet, it is time to start turning them! Gently turn each meatball once it has browned on the opposite side. My burner causes my large cast iron skillet to be unevenly hot, so I swap some of the middle meatballs for the outer meatballs to ensure an even sear.
Bake in skillet or transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
To make these meatballs gluten free, simply use gluten free breadcrumbs. You could also try substituting gluten free flour for the breadcrumbs but I cannot vouch for how that will work.
I like to make a large pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week, so that I can make these or anything else quickly without having to wait for the quinoa to cook.
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This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Flashback Friday, Show Stopper Saturday, Saturday Night Fever