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Aug 13, 2016

Baked Turkey Quinoa Meatballs {dairy + gluten free}

I started making these meatballs over three years ago when I ended up cooking entirely too much quinoa and needed to find a use for it all. What I love most about these is how easy they are to make ahead and freeze. You can either freeze them before baking and then just take out what you need and let it thaw, or you can bake them all up, freeze them, and remove them to reheat a few whenever you need a quick and healthy meal.

I also needed to make something that would freeze well, so it'll last longer and make future meals a little easier. These meatballs were my answer! The original recipe that inspired me can be found here by Knead to Cook. You can add these to spaghetti and marinara for a delicious Italian option, or serve them with gravy over mashed potatoes. I happen to love the sweet and savory sauce that gives them an Asian flavor along with some rice or noodles.

Here are a couple of things I've learned when it comes to cooking with quinoa:

Tip 1: One cup of uncooked quinoa makes approximately three cups once it is cooked. So when you're reading a recipe, look closely to determine if your measurement is dry or cooked... otherwise you'll end up with gobs of quinoa left and have to come up with more recipes to make with it.

Tip 2: Sometimes the texture of quinoa can be a little strange and take some getting used to. I use about 25% more liquid than called for when cooking it, which helps make it a little softer and the texture not so odd. For example: One cup dry quinoa would typically be cooked in two cups water... I use 2 1/2 cups water instead. You may need to let it cook slightly longer than the directions call for in order for the extra liquid to be absorbed.

Baked Turkey Quinoa Meatballs {dairy + gluten free}

  • 2 Tbsp ground flax
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 small purple onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Tamari
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil, add quinoa and cook until soft. Once cooked, set aside and allow to cool.

Combine the flax and 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. This will thicken and become a "flax egg" to replace egg. (If you can use egg, just use one in place of this).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, onion, garlic, spinach, ginger, salt and pepper. Add the cooled, cooked quinoa and the flax egg. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well combined.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, spoon out ping-pong ball to golf ball sized portions. Roll into a ball using your hands and place on baking pan. Repeat. This recipe usually makes 15 large or 24 small meatballs. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sesame oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the Tamari and brown sugar. Cook until the brown sugar is melted and dissolved. Add the rice wine vinegar and combine. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and gently turn them to coat in the sauce.
Transfer meatballs and sauce to a serving platter and top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions (optional). 

Updated 8-13-2016; Original recipe posted 5-13-2013.
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