Happy Sunday, everyone! I gave Eric two choices as part of our weekly meal plan – “meatballs” or burgers. He picked “meatballs”. I would prefer to call them something other than “meatballs” because these obviously don’t have meat, but since meatballs are classic, I was having trouble coming up with a better name.
Finally, I decided to call them packed gluten free + vegan “meatballs” for now. These have an incredible nutritional profile. They are “packed” with good stuff –3 nutritious grains, legumes, and seeds (amaranth is technically a seed).
These are full of protein, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. Unlike regular meatballs which are loaded with saturated fat and void of vitamins and fiber, these have no saturated fat. The combination of amaranth, and quinoa, and lentils, gives them an even higher amino acid profile than found in regular meatballs. If you need more information about amaranth, you can check out my previous amaranth post. Sara Britton, a holistic nutritionist, and vegetarian chef behind My New Roots also did a great post on explaining amaranth and going over all of its nutritional benefits. Amaranth tends to be a bit expensive or may be difficult to find, so if you have to leave it out of the recipe, just substitute the ½ cup with quinoa.
Here are some basic direction for cooking 1 cup of each of the 3 components. Make sure you wash them thoroughly first.
Quinoa: bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa. Lower heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand with the lid closed for 5 minutes.
Amaranth: best if previously soaked overnight. Bring 2 ½ cups water and 1 cup amaranth to a boil. Lower heat, cover with a lid, and simmer with a closed lid for 20 minutes.
Lentils: bring 1 ½ cups of water and 1 cup of lentils. Lower heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 40 minutes (for green/brown lentils) and 25 minutes for red lentils. You can also get a package of cooked lentils at Trader Joe’s.
Packed Gluten Free + Vegan “Meatballs”
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 30
Ingredients (Makes: 16 “meatballs”)
- 1 ½ + 1/3 cups of lentils (fully cooked)
- 1 ½ cups of quinoa (fully cooked)
- ½ cup amaranth (fully cooked)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cups of walnuts
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 medium onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 Tbs fresh parsley (4 sprigs)
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp molasses
- 2 tsp salts (or to taste)
Need a recipe for a quick tomato sauce with a kick? Don’t worry, I got you.
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 Tbs tomato paste
- 2 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 chipotle pepper + 1 tsp sauce
- 2 tsp dried oregano, finely minced
- 2 sprigs rosemary, finely minced
- ½ cup fresh basil
- 1 tsp molasses
- 2 tsp salt (to taste)
For the meatballs
Pulse the walnuts and oats in a food processor until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set ½ cup aside. This 1/2 cup will be later used for coating the meatballs.
Dice the onion and carrots and add to the food processor. Add 1 ½ cups of lentils (save the other 1/3 cup), quinoa, amaranth, garlic, parsley, thyme, nutritional yeast, oat-walnut crumbs, paprika, molasses, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are combined. You may have to do this in a couple of batches if your food processor is not big enough.
Empty the food processor mixture into a large bowl, add the walnut-oat crumbs and the remainder 1/3 cup of lentils and mix until combined.
Position the oven rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400◦ and spray a cooking sheet with non-stick spray.
Shape the “meatballs” and roll them in the walnut-oat crumbs.
Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip and bake on the other side for 15 minutes.
Let them sit for 5 minutes and serve.
For the sauce
In a medium size pan drizzled with olive oil, sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.
Chop the chipotle pepper into small pieces.
Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chipotle pepper and sauce, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat, add oregano, rosemary and cover with a lid.
Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes. The flavors will develop the longer you cook, so you if you have time, leave it on the stove.
Finish off your gluten free + vegan meatballs with this sauce with a kick. Enjoy!
Now, what to do with your delicious creation? You can do a ton! Make classic spaghetti and meatballs, sandwiches, pita pockets, salad bowls, or an appetizer with a spicy pepper hummus dip. YUM!
I made a big pot of Quick Tomato-Chipotle Sauce and organic brown rice spaghetti. This made a ton of leftovers. You can also spoon the sauce on top of your meatballs for a meatball sandwich, or make a pita pocket with fresh hummus, greens, tomatoes, and green onions as a garnish, or just add them to a salad for a packed salad bowl.
Eric loved the pasta and the meatball sandwiches and I loved salad bowls for lunch.