Quick Quinoa Meatballs

When it comes to food, Hubster and I are very alike.  And by alike I mean just like in this Venn diagram ... except the sliver of overlap is our mutual tastes in food.    I like virtually all veggies.  Hubs likes potatoes and corn (sometimes together).  I like apples of all persuasions.  He likes only MacIntosh.  I love quinoa. He pushes it around the plate, then announces he's full.

Somehow, we found common ground with meatballs.

So when I found this meatball recipe, which sneaks in quinoa in place of bread crumbs, I was all over it!  I was a tad worried about whether The Hubmeister would eat them ... I once tried to sneak pureed veggies into meatballs one time and he snuck them all into the garbage.  But this recipe ... he tolerates them.  To tell the truth, I myself thought the taste of quinoa overpowered the beef.  The quantity below has since been adjusted to our mutual taste.  Serve as is with fancy toothpicks as an appy, or smother in tomato sauce and pasta for a nice dinner.

Quinoa is a seed, not a grain.  But if you are gluten intolerant, you are cautioned to look for "gluten-free" on the label to assure there are no gluten cootie contamination during its minimal processing/packing.  And unless the package specifically states that it was prewashed, be sure to place the quinoa in a fine-mesh colander and rinse the seeds thoroughly to wash away the bitter coating.

I've said this before but it is really bears repeating: be sure to drain the quinoa well  ... even if it looks like all the water was absorbed.  Because it really hasn't.  Quinoa holds onto excess water like a sponge and needs to shed that excess.  The meatballs will fall apart during cooking if you skip the drain step.  Ask me how I know. :p

Quick Quinoa Meatballs
Adapted from: Cooking Light
Yield: 20-22 meatballs

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 pound ground beef (no more than 90% lean)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne (red) pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. dried parsley leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse quinoa well in a fine-mesh colander.  Set aside to drain.

Meanwhile, bring the 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan over high heat. Stir in quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 12 minutes.  Transfer quinoa to the fine-mesh colander; allow to drain and cool for at least 10 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooling, add all remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl.  After the cooling step, add the quinoa to the bowl. Use your (preferably clean) hands to gently combine everything well.  Avoid overworking the meat to avoid it toughening.  Better to under combine than over.

Shape the meat mixture into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet, allowing at least 1/2 inch between each. Place in oven and cook 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and browned.

For some reason, the grease in the photo looks more red than in person.

If cooked through but not pleasingly browned, place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning.

Camera-shy:  ketchup on one plate, tomato sauce on the other.

Serve as an appetizer or as a main course.


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