With school in session and summer vacation behind us, I am slowly getting back into my normal routine in the kitchen. I have long been a fan of prepping meals on the weekend, but for whatever reason this never seems to happen during the summer months. But now, I’m back in business. Anything I can do to make my life easier and less hectic during the workweek is the name of the game.
And today’s recipe for quinoa meatballs absolutely fits this requirement. While the meatballs do take a bit of time to pull together, they freeze and reheat beautifully (and make a good sized batch!). Filled with quinoa, walnuts, chickpeas and a variety of dried herbs, they are simple yet flavorful. And perfect when served as part of a classic spaghetti and meatballs dish!
Now, a few tips for the meatballs. I would suggest mincing the onion and carrot in your food processor (in addition to the walnuts and chickpeas). Makes it nice and quick.
The mixture for the meatballs will be slightly wet, but you should be able to form into balls. You can add in additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Try to avoid adding too much extra flour, so the meatballs don’t wind up on the dry side. Additionally, a cookie scoop is really helpful here--it speeds up the process and gives you meatballs that are uniform in size.
After you have baked the meatballs, let them cool completely then place them in a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer. You can also make homemade tomato sauce and freeze that as well. Come dinnertime, all you’ll need to do is cook up some pasta, and heat up the sauce and meatballs. Nice and easy for the workweek!
For the meatballs:
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- ¼ cup minced onion
- ½ cup minced carrot
- ½ cup raw walnut halves
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons vegetarian worcestershire sauce
- Cooked pasta
- Tomato sauce
- Chopped fresh basil and / or shredded cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Add the quinoa and broth to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, along with the onion and carrot.
- Add the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground (but not so far that it turns into a paste). Add the ground walnuts to the bowl with the quinoa. Next, add the chickpeas to the bowl of the food processor. Process until about half are pureed, but the rest still have some texture. Add the chickpeas to the large bowl, along with the breadcrumbs, flour, salt, parsley, oregano, basil and garlic. Mix until well combined. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed. Add the eggs, tomato paste and worcestershire to a small bowl and beat together with a fork. Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl and stir until well-combined.
- Form the mixture into balls about 1 ½-inches in diameter and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. Serve as desired.