In order to stop meatballs from falling apart you need a binding agent. That’s one of the sacred rules of cooking. Without a binding agent, meatballs hardly hold their round shape and most of the time they will break while you cook them.
The most used binding agents are eggs or bread crumbs. Cheese (such as Parmesan cheese), flax meal or almond meal are among other favorites. I never thought (until yesterday) that quinoa could be used as well...now I know, quinoa makes for a perfect binding agent. Who knew?
I found this recipe, made the meatballs and instantly fell in love with them. I did tweak it a bit to add some of my fave flavors, but it was already pretty much perfect. The tahini sauce works like a charm. I also tried them with Sriracha, and they were just as good...so do play around.
Using quinoa makes these meatballs gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free. They’re loaded with protein and calorie considerate. If that isn’t a win-win situation, I honestly don’t know what it is.
Even if you don’t trust me, do give them a try, because I know you will fall in love with them; and I don’t want to be deprived of the pleasure of saying “I TOLD YOU SO!”
Quinoa and Turkey Meatballs with Tahini Sauce Print this recipe!
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Makes about 26 bite size meatballs
1 cup / 6 oz / 170 gr white quinoa
12 oz / 340 gr organic ground turkey
¼ teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground allspice
½ teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground cumin
pinch of red-pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
¾ teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, peeled
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. bring 2 cups (500ml) of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil, give a quick stir, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, process one garlic clove, tahini, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of water in a food processor until smooth. If necessary, thin with water. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a dry large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, toss and toast quinoa with allspice, cumin and red pepper flakes for 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.
Put turkey, mint, scallions, garlic clove, and salt in a clean bowl of a food processor; pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add quinoa, process until mixture clumps around the blade, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl. With dampened hands, roll about 2 scant tablespoons quinoa mixture into a ball; flatten slightly, and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining mixture to make all meatballs.
Heat the same skillet over medium heat until hot. Working on batches, lightly coat meatballs with cooking spray. Cook meatballs in skillet, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes per sides. Transfer patties to a clean plate, and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
Serve warm (or cold) with the tahini sauce.
One meatball scores 37 calories, 1.4 grams of fat, 3.1 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein.