I pretty much have had salad for lunch every day for about 5 months, so naturally I was beginning to get sick of them. It’s hard to whip up anything gourmet for lunch when I work all day, so salads were an easy fix for having a quick meal. After talking to a fellow coworker and friend, Claire (Hi Claire!!), she recommended I try these meatless balls of yummy goodness. I have never made meatballs before (without help from my mom), so I thought these would be a challenge, but surprisingly they were easy! Because I didn’t use cheese, they were a little harder to stay together, but as long as you sear them well on each side, they stick together very well….with a little assistance from an egg white.
So, if you’re looking for a healthy lunch that you can whip up in a snap….make these guys when you have some time and throw them back in the pan, oven, or microwave when ready to reheat. They’re also a great pre and/or post workout snack, or just a snack when your tummy gets rumbling.
The other thing that’s great about these, is that you can modify them to your own liking. The original recipe from http://skinnyms.com/quinoa-meatless-meatballs/ (check out her blog, it’s great!) used red bell pepper but since I didn’t have any on hand I incorporated broccoli and grape tomatoes for that added red color.
Servings: About 12 Meatballs (depending on the size you make them)
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
1 cup water
1 cup cooked green lentils, well drained
1/4 cup diced broccoli
10 grape tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup panko Italian breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat parsley leaves
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 egg white (for vegan add 2-3 teaspoons water)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil
- Once you cook your quinoa and rest for 10 minutes covered off of the heat, press down on quinoa with a paper towel to remove any remaining water. Any remaining water will make it harder for the meatballs to bind. **For better drying, I cooked my quinoa the day before and left in the fridge**
- This is optional, but since I didn’t want chunks of onion and broccoli in my meatballs, I put them in a food processor and finely chopped.
- In a large non-stick skillet on medium-low heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil, when hot add diced onions, broccoli, and tomatoes and sauté until tender about 4 minutes, add garlic, parsley and oregano and sauté one additional minute.
- In a large mixing bowl combine sautéed onion mixture and add all of the remaining ingredients, except oil. Use a potato masher and mash the ingredients until the lentils are well mashed. Using your hands, shape into 1 – 1/2 inch balls (or desired size) , place in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. The chilling is crucial because this will also help keep them together when you’re ready to cook.
- When ready to make, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a large non-stick skillet (I used the same skillet as I had the onion and broccoli), heat to medium-low and add quinoa (meatless) meatballs. Brown meatballs, turning over every minute or so and brown on each side. Cook until browned and heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- You can eat them just like this, or you can add tomato sauce to the pan and toss the meatballs to coat (gently, because they could fall apart).
I ate these on their own with a little marinara sauce. There isn’t much more you have to do with these balls of goodness. You can put in a salad, serve as an appetizer with toothpicks, or serve over pasta!