Asian Quinoa Meatballs is the perfect appetizer or lunch. Quinoa and ground turkey form a delicious and healthy meatball that you will love. Top or dip with an Asian-style sauce for a wonderful, silky finish
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I never heard of quinoa until a few years ago, when my friends Jack & Betty introduced me to it. They raved about it, but I still had my doubts. I can’t even remember why I hesitated…probably some random rationalization in my mind. A few weeks later I tried a sample at a restaurant and liked it, so I bought some at the grocery store. I cooked it in water, according to directions, and nearly threw it out. Quinoa cooked in water tastes like wallpaper paste.
A few months later I tried it again, used vegetable broth instead of water, and the result was night and day. Broth adds so much flavor, and the result was delicious. Then I learned to make my own vegetable broth, and realized I had been missing out. Homemade broth has a deeper color, and a much more intense flavor, than store-bought.
WHAT IS QUINOA?
Quinoa is a complete protein, is high in both fiber and iron, and is an overall good-for-you superfood. You’d think that I would therefore eat quinoa on a regular basis…well, then you would be wrong. When I’m on a quinoa kick, I eat it at least twice a week. Other times I’ll go weeks without it. Quinoa is just one of those food spurts I go through.
The most common quinoa is white quinoa, and that’s what I used for a long time. Then my mom gave me tri-color quinoa. To me, the tri-color quinoa has more texture than the white, but the flavor and taste are identical. I always have both white and tri-color quinoa in my pantry, and use them interchangeably.
Currently, my only other quinoa recipe on the blog is Kale & Quinoa Patties. It is one of my favorites, and I make for lunch regularly. But of course, I needed to branch out, and did that with Asian Quinoa Meatballs
These Asian Quinoa Meatballs are so delicious! The quinoa creates such a nice bite and contrast in texture to the meatballs, and the onion and garlic add a wonderful flavor. I like the combination of the quinoa and turkey, because it’s a lighter take on a traditional meatball that doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. This recipe creates a generous portion, and it’s more than filling enough for lunch.
INGREDIENTS FOR ASIAN QUINOA MEATBALLS
- Quinoa: as I mentioned earlier, I use white and tri-color interchangeably. For these Asian Quinoa Meatballs I prefer tri-color quinoa, only because I like the depth of color
- Ground turkey: I use lean ground turkey, but you could certainly substitute ground beef or ground chicken
- Panko bread crumbs: the first time I made this recipe I didn’t use the bread crumbs, but the mixture was so sticky. The bread crumbs act as a binder, and because they are so light they don’t weigh down the meatballs
- Sriracha hot sauce: the hot sauce adds flavor, but not spice, to the Asian Quinoa Meatballs
- Soy sauce: used in both the meatballs and the sauce, and I always use low-sodium soy sauce
- Onion, garlic, spring onion, salt, pepper, and egg
MAKING ASIAN QUINOA MEATBALLS
Some people make quinoa in large batches, to have for the week. I like to cook different dishes every day, so I’ve never done that. When Asian Quinoa Meatballs are on the meal plan for lunch, I cook the quinoa before work, and when I get home I’ve cut the prep time in half.
The first couple of times I shaped the meatballs by hand, but then I could never get them uniform in shape and/or size. I switched to a small cookie scoop, finished forming the meatballs in my hands, and they come out perfectly.
ASIAN QUINOA MEATBALLS SAUCE
The biggest challenge I faced in making these Asian Quinoa Meatballs is the sauce. I followed the original recipe instructions the first time, and the sauce was much too sweet for my tastes. I then tried a couple of store-bought sauces, but they lacked the punch I wanted. Eventually went back to the original homemade recipe, made a few changes, and nailed it. The sauce is thick and rich, and complements the Asian Quinoa Meatballs so well.
HOW TO ENJOY ASIAN QUINOA MEATBALLS
- As an appetizer – if you do this, make the meatballs just a little bit smaller. With the small cookie scoop, you will get about 20 meatballs
- As a light lunch
- Over pasta or rice noodles
Asian Quinoa Meatballs are high on my list of favorite meals. I don’t make them as often as I should, and I really need to change that.
Adapted from Damn Delicious
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO EAT QUINOA?
- 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves raw and roasted garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Add quinoa to a small saucepan. Toast for a few minutes, until nutty smell develops
- Add broth, turn heat to low, and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes
When finished, remove from pan and allow to cool completely. I make my quinoa a few hours ahead
- Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease 9"x13" baking dish
In large bowl, add quinoa, turkey, onions, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic. In a separate small bowl, mix eggs, soy sauce and Sriracha. Add to dry ingredients, and combine everything fully
Using small cookie scoop, form meatballs. Will make 18-20 meatballs
Place meatballs into prepared baking dish. Bake 18-20 minutes, until cooked through
Add all sauce ingredients EXCEPT cornstarch to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes
Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water, and stir to combine. Add to saucepan, and cook slowly over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened
- Garnish meatballs with sesame seeds and green onions. Pour sauce over, or dip meatballs into sauce