Spaghetti with Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs… here’s to second best!


Nothing is better than Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs.  I know all you red meat eaters just got the WTF look across your face.   quinoa meatballs 138


Okay okay, wipe that look off your face.  Allow me to rephrase.quinoa meatballs 102

After “real” meatballs, nothing is better than Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs.  How’s that?  quinoa meatballs 119

Although I don’t eat red meat, I have nibbled at “real” meatballs on a couple occasions (@Lavo, Las Vegas) and they do undoubtedly taste better than any vegetarian/vegan meatball recipe out there. quinoa meatballs 135

But since we are all here to promote good health, here’s to second best – Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs made with quinoa and mushrooms and breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and basil and then rolled into little balls and baked off in the oven. quinoa meatballs 108

Even my “picky eater” husband who isn’t a fan of quinoa or mushrooms for that matter L-O-V-E-D these quinoa meatballs, and thus I am pretty confident most people will enjoy this dish.  quinoa meatballs 160

For this recipe, I strongly recommend buying a really “good quality” marinara sauce since the bulk of the flavor is in the sauce.  My recommendation is Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce which is nothing short of perfection.  I can’t stop raving about it, and just like I, you will be transformed to Italy after just one bite.  Seriously!   quinoa meatballs 209

For all you meatless lovers, you don't need meat to go wild.  Enjoy!quinoa meatballs 212


NUTRITION: Quinoa is a complete Protein loaded with 9 essential amino acids, Fiber, and is a very good source of Iron, and Magnesium.  Whole Wheat Pasta adds Protein and Fiber to this dish.  Tomato Sauce is a good source of Vitamins A and C.  Basil is an excellent source of Vitamin K and a very good source of Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin A.  Although high in fat, egg and cheese are an excellent source of Calcium and Protein.


INGREDIENTS  (makes 4-6 servings)

for quinoa meatballs – makes 18 meatballs baked @ 350 degrees
(recipe mostly adapted from Aida Mollenkamp; halved & modified, here is my version):

  • Quinoa – 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp  (uncooked)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Crushed Red Pepper – 1/2 tsp 
  • Onion – 1 small  (chopped)
  • Garlic – 2 cloves  (chopped)
  • Thyme – 1 tsp
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms – 8 ounces  (chopped)
  • Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce – 3 tbsp  (or use your favorite marinara)
  • Black Pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • salt to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese – 3 tbsp
  • Fresh Basil – 3 tbsp
  • Organic Egg – 1
  • Italian Style Bread Crumbs – 1/4 cup
for sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 tsp
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – 1/2 tsp  (use less or omit if you can’t handle heat)
  • Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce – 1 (32 ounce) jar  (or use your favorite “good quality” Marinara sauce)
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • salt to taste
for pasta


DIRECTIONS:
for the quinoa

1. Start by cooking the quinoa.  This is what you should have once it is done.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.quinoa meatballs 021
2. Chop the onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  quinoa meatballs 022
3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat, once hot, add a tablespoon of EVOO, add crushed red pepper and wait till you hear a sizzle.quinoa meatballs 028
4. Add the onion and season with salt and black pepper.  Cook until soft, just a few minutes.quinoa meatballs 031
5. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for about 30 seconds.quinoa meatballs 034
6. Add the mushrooms and season with salt.  Allow the mushrooms to cook for about 10 minutes or until browned.  quinoa meatballs 036
7. Once the mushrooms brown, add 3 tbsp of Marinara Sauce.
quinoa meatballs 038quinoa meatballs 040

8. Stir all the ingredients together and turn off the stove.  Save the skillet for later use.quinoa meatballs 041
9. At this time preheat the oven at 350 degrees.quinoa meatballs 052
10. Add the quinoa to a mixing bowl.quinoa meatballs 044
11. Add the sautéed mushrooms to the quinoa.  quinoa meatballs 046
12. While the mushrooms cool, grate some parmesan cheese and chop some basil.quinoa meatballs 048
13. Add the cheese and basil to the quinoa and mushrooms.quinoa meatballs 049
14. Add the breadcrumbs and egg.  quinoa meatballs 053
15. Mix all the ingredients so everything is well incorporated.quinoa meatballs 057
16. Coat a baking tray with Sunflower Oil.  Dampen your hands and use a 1 tablespoon measurement to form little quinoa balls.  quinoa meatballs 061
17. You should have around 18.  Into the oven for 15-25 minutes, however I baked mine for 25 minutes.  Oven temperatures vary so check after 15 minutes and then every 5.quinoa meatballs 062
for the sauce + pasta
18. While the quinoa meatballs bake, you can cleanup, and then heat a pot of water for the pasta, and chop up some basil.
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19. Once the patties are done, using a flat stainless steel turner “gently” scrape the quinoa meatballs off the baking tray. quinoa meatballs 072
20. Add the quinoa patties to the original skillet you were using.  quinoa meatballs 077
21. Turn on the stove, once hot, add a teaspoon of EVOO and crushed red pepper, wait for the pepper to sizzle.quinoa meatballs 078
22. Now add your favorite Marinara Sauce.  quinoa meatballs 082
23. Season with very little salt (if need be) and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.quinoa meatballs 086
24. Add a handful of the chopped fresh basil leaves.quinoa meatballs 091
25. Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat (dial #3).  About 7 minutes.quinoa meatballs 093
26. Follow the instructions on the box and cook the spaghetti until perfectly al dente.quinoa meatballs 089
27. Check on the sauce, this is what you should have.  Looks like real meatballs, huh?quinoa meatballs 095
28. Using tongs, add the hot spaghetti directly into the sauce.  quinoa meatballs 098
29. GENTLY TOSS so you do not break up the quinoa meatballs.  Add 1/4 cup or less of reserved pasta water if you want to thin out the sauce slightly.  quinoa meatballs 101
30. Serve immediately.  So comforting and tasty.  I was full after just 1 bowl since quinoa is packed with protein.  Love it!quinoa meatballs 203

TELL ME: Have you ever made vegetarian quinoa meatballs?  How do you make yours?  What’s your favorite Marinara Sauce?


59 comments:

  1. Making these this weekend! I love the bake and pan cook method. Probably makes them a little crispy, which I love!

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  2. I've been wanting to make vegetarian meatballs! Totally making these for dinner this week. Thanks, Nisha!

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  3. Bookmarking this recipe. I have been searching a lot for vegetarian meatballs and finally found the one. I am gonna make this soon.

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  4. absolutelyyyyyyyyyy digging this recipe. I have never made it before now i will. I have never tried that Rao's sauce however my current fav is Ragu's No Sugar Added Tomato Basil :)

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  5. OMG, this looks fantastic. I have never heard of quinoa meatballs but this is a great idea. I think this is my favorite dish you have made, but then again I have a few favorite of yours. I am so pining this and hopefully making soon :-)

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  6. Wow... Clear n beautiful explanation... Any replacement for Mariana sauce ?
    Event: Dish name starts with Q till Feb 28th

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  7. @Akila - I love Rao's Homemade Marinara, if you can get that, you won't be dissapointed. My backups are Barilla Marinara and Classico Marinara. Or you can just make it at home. hope that helps.

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  8. @eatgood4life - Thank you.. haha, a few favorites, I have to try some of your chicken recipes too, just don't cook meat at home. Let me know how it turns out. :)

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  9. @Dixya - If you make this, let me know how it turns out, can't wait for you to try it.

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  10. @Harsha - thanks... hope it works out for you.

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  11. @Lauren - you are welcome. let me know how it turns out, make sure you try it with Rao's, the sauce will make all the difference.

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  12. @Parita - you can totally saute the meatballs for 5 minutes with EVOO once you take them out of the oven, I'm sure it will make them crispier. let me know how they turn out. Thanks. :)

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  13. I've never tried these before, but oh my goodness am I going to now!! What's not to love?? Quinoa, mushrooms..?? So good! Thanks for sharing...

    -Shannon

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  14. Heh, I totally had a WTF look on my face but these meatballs look so good (and almost meaty). I'm so impressed that they held up so well during the cooking process. Definitely bookmarked these beauties :)

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  15. This is wonderful! I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy quinoa and this certainly is one of them!! Can't wait to make these soon!

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  16. This is amazing! I totally wanna try this recipe, quinoa meatballs are the best thing I've heard all day, awesome job.

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  17. @Mushrooms Canada - that means a lot coming from someone who blogs about "mushrooms." Thanks Shannon.

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  18. @Lawyer - haha.. they are pretty meaty. They held up well because I baked them a little longer, and the key is to gently toss all the ingredients. Thanks!

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  19. @Min - Thanks and welcome. Let me know how this works out for you. :)

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  20. @Natalie - thanks! They are so tasty. Glad you approve. :)

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  21. Hi Nisha,
    I would love to dig into this right now. It looks fabulous!

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  22. Wow thats something new...lovely recipe Nisha. Am gona try this at home:)

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  23. @Nina - thanks. Hope you like it. :)
    @Asmita - thanks. :)

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  24. I need to stop stalking your blog. But I wanted to let you know that I ended up making a marinara sauce and along with your recipe the meatballs were such a success! So happy!

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  25. @Lauren - No no, don't stop stalking me. Lol! Wow, you made the marinara, I'm sure it turned out even better than mine. Homemade Marinara is the best. So glad it was a success for you. Thanks for letting me know. :-)

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  26. Q for you Honey. I have a husband who doesn't eat egg, can I substitute egg for something else? If so, what?

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  27. @Anonymous - that's a tough one.. see if you can find an egg replacer at the grocery store. maybe 2% milk, what you need is a protein binder. Ener-G replacer?

    Let me know.

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  28. These look like literal "Amazeballs". Can't wait to try!

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  29. @Whitney - thanks so much.. I hope you try them, they are "amazeballs" - great way to describe them.

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  30. So very delicious! Didn't miss meat at all. Thanks for the recipe.

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  31. @S - So glad to hear that. That was the whole point. :)

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  32. Yummy! Made this last night, thanks for posting and awesome pics and directions!

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  33. @Anonymous - so glad this worked out for you. Thanks for your feedback!

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  34. Is there a mushroom substitute for ppl who are allergic?

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  35. @Chellz - The 2 things that come to mind are:
    1. eggplant - you will need to use a little more oil for cooking them, or you can roast them in the oven and then add them to the pan.
    2. tofu - it doesn't have much flavor so you may wanna season it well with salt, black pepper, and thyme.
    Let me know how it goes. Good luck!

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  36. Wow... Clear and beautiful explanation... Any replacement for Mariana sauce ?

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    Replies
    1. @Quinoa - The original recipe called for "tomato paste" instead of Marinara Sauce, I just used Marinara since I was going to add it in the spaghetti. Give tomato paste a try. Hope that helps. :)

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  37. If you live in the Akron,Ohio area the very best marinara in DeVitis Uncle Vinny's. So delicious you could drink it!!

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    1. Thanks Anonymous. Hopefully I'll try it someday when i visit Ohio. :)

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  38. tried these meatballs at a friends house they were amazing!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous - I'm so glad you enjoyed this dish.. aren't they great? You really don't miss the meat, at least I didn't, but then I don't eat red-meat.

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  39. Made this tonight! Turned out great!
    I made my own marinara using this recipe: http://theitaliandishblog.com/imported-20090913150324/2012/10/30/my-tips-for-homemade-marinara-sauce.html

    Thanks! This recipe made it to my recipe box! :)

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    1. Hey, so glad that worked out for you. I'll check out your marinara sauce recipe. Thanks!!

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  40. So delicious! We loved this dish. My meatballs probably should have cooked longer, since they broke up a bit at the end, but man oh man....this recipe was a winner for sure!

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    1. Melanie - I'm so glad you enjoyed this. Sorry your meatballs broke, but I'm so glad it worked out. This recipe rocks! Agreed! :)

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  41. Hi! This is a great recipe! I made it gluten free, subbed the pasta for GF pasta and the breadcrumbs for GF breadcrumbs (GF bread I had leftover in the freezer). Some of my balls fell apart when I mixed everything together but I didn't care because it was just so yummy! And filling, so I have leftovers yay! I will be making this again, I'd even say they are better than regular meatballs. =D

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    1. Melissa - I'm so glad to hear that. I know some of my meatless balls fell apart, but they were still so good. I'm surprised you think they are better than real meatballs... i don't eat redmeat, so I can't even say that. Thanks for your feedback. :-)

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  42. Ms. Lady!!!
    This is a wonderful recipe. Thank you for sharing. I made this dish because I was coming off of the Master Cleanse and I'm looking for tasty recipes that are still healthy. I have added this to my recipe book. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I have to literally hide my spaghetti from the meat eaters in the house. Sad! Ok so I didn't have fresh Parmesan so just used the regular sprinkle on kind. (Still delicious) The next time I wont put salt while sauteing the onions since my mother is a little salt sensitive. I'm sure it will still be amazing. Thanks again!

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    1. Lana - Thank you so very much for your kind words. I used to think that you can't make healthy comfort food, but so wrong. I'm so glad the meat eaters like this recipe - WIN! Next time try it with Parmesan Cheese, it's delicious. Thanks for your feedback.

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  43. These are so very good! Beat out my other recipe for sure. However, I didn't think they would reduce as much as they did upon baking. Size doesn't matter ;)but when I salted to taste before baking I had it just right, having reduced so much they came out rather salty. Note to self.

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    Replies
    1. @Anonymous - Thank you.. I'm so glad you thought so. I was able to form 32 balls, they did reduce slightly, or maybe I didn't take note. Awww.. I'm sorry they turned out salty... I'll check to make sure I included the right salt amount. :)

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  44. Das sieht soooo lecker aus. Das wird ganz sicher schon bald nachgekocht.

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  45. This recipe sounds really good. I cannot wait to try it.

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    1. It is awesome.. hope you try it Corinna. Let me know. :-)

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  46. Awesome recipe! They taste pretty close to real meatballs! Even my picky eaters (and mushroom haters) loved it. I will definitely be making this again :)

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    1. Thanks Stephanie. I'm glad you thought so. I'm surprised there are so many mushroom haters. Thanks for the feedback. :-)

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  47. Thank you for this! I made it tonight and it was amazing. My husband asked if the quinoa was mixed in with the meat and I just smiled at him. ;o)

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  48. Any substitute for egg as we don't eat eggs.

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