Since embarking on my vegetarian journey, I've tried vegetarian meatballs of all shapes and sizes. From meat substitutes, to beans, to lentils, and back again, I've cooked and tasted quite the rainbow of veggie meatballs; however, none have had that perfect balance of firm + tender texture that is so indicative of a good meatball. After a cannelini-meatball flop and fail a few months back, I set out on a mission to create the perfect veggie meatballs. After a few tries and a few fails, this glorious quinoa meatball recipe came to be and it is the definition of delicious.
The texture is that perfect balance of firm + tender, the flavor is rich and meaty, and the ingredients add a balanced dose of healthfulness to this hearty dish. These meatballs are so easygoing and delicious, you can incorporate them into your life in a multitude of ways. Served with your favorite pasta, lined up on a toasted sub roll and topped with marinara, or tossed over spaghetti squash with a bit of parmesan; each option is just as tasty and satisfying as the next.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and finely diced
- 6 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 ½ cups Italian style breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese*
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten*
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in red pepper and onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and sauté another 3-5 minutes. Lastly, add in baby spinach and continue to sauté until spinach is wilted. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
- Add cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add in sautéed veggies and gently stir. Add in the parsley, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute. Lastly, add in the eggs and gently mix until just combined to bind.
- Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon 1 ½ tablespoons of mixture into your hand and roll into "meatball" form and place on baking sheet. Continue to do this until all meatballs have been formed. Note: the mixture will seem very sticky but, trust me, these meatballs will cook up and hold together well. They are sticky because you want them to bake up super moist, which is exactly what they do.
- Bake the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes or until just taking on a golden hue.
- Serve with your favorite marinara and pasta.
- Store leftovers in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze.
Vegan Option: substitute vegan parmesan cheese (e.g., Go Veggie) and two flax or chia eggs (i.e., 1 tablespoon chia or flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water = one egg. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.)