Since I was a kid, I always felt I had a special connection to the Italian culture, maybe because my middle name (my mother’s maiden last name) was Milano, Milano is in Italy, and growing up, I watched “Who’s the Boss” with Alyssa Milano and she is Italian! Additionally, my favorite food growing up was Italian food (and I think it still is). I loved spaghetti, lasagna, parmesan cheese, cannoli, and especially Italian-style dressing. In elementary school, when I’d cook my way through the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with my mom, I learned the basics on marinara-making and throughout the years, I have improved my marinara (recipe is in the Yvonne’s Vegan Kitchen App). These days, with less free time due my busy schedule, I actually pick up a jar of my favorite marinara by Rao’s at Whole Foods. Their Roasted Garlic version is absolutely delicious. One thing, though, I refuse to purchase at the store are meatballs. Normally, store-bought vegan meatballs have some sort of soy protein, who knows how much oil, mystery ingredients, and they just leave me unsatisfied. I developed a quinoa meatball recipe that I’ve shared on my app, and it was actually born out ofmy veggie patty recipe. It’s basically the same recipe, just in meatball form. I could not, though, get myself to call it an Italian meatball because there is nothing Italian about it.
Lately, since I’ve been cooking more at home again, I’ve been on an Italian kick. I took my original meatball recipe, used it as a base, and Italianized it using fennel seeds, Italian herbs, and as I created it, I even turned on my Pandora Italian Jazz station. The end result, an Italian meatball recipe that I am so thrilled to share with you. It’s one of my favorite recipes.
I was so happy that my friend, Vince Lia, who is 100% Italian, came into the kitchen to watch me make these and taste-test my Italian meatballs. We even made Italian sausage! I am happy to say, they are Italian-approved. Thanks, Vince, for catching me on camera to show everyone how it’s done. It was a blast making them with you in the kitchen! If you don’t already follow Vince’s kitchen adventures on YouTube, I recommend subscribing!
So about the sausages, we tried frying the sausages, but found that baking them made for a better crisp texture, so ditch the oil, and make friends with your oven! Your body will thank you for it!
Here’s the video, (click the photo) and below is the recipe. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do!
Italian Quinoa Meatballs
Time: 1 hour
Servings: 40 meatballs
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa (will need 3 cups quinoa cooked)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3/4 poblano chile pepper, deseeded and destemmed, finely chopped (can sub with 4 jalapenos)
2 small carrots, peeled and minced
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 tsp celtic or Himalayan sea salt
1 cup parsley, chopped
3 cups spinach, finely chopped
¼ cup basil, chopped
1 cup oat flour (can substitute sorghum flour)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook, drain and cool quinoa in filtered water. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, and carrot and cook until onions are translucent. You do not need any oil to sauté this mixture since the water from the onions and other veggies will seep out and will help cook the rest of the vegetables.
- Add the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, fennel seeds, garlic powder, cook for about 2 minutes, then add the parsley, basil, spinach and quinoa. Stir well and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add the oat flour. Stir well until everything starts to bind together and the mixture cools. If it doesn’t bind together right away, add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time, at most 3-4 tablespoons.
- Disclaimer: I recommend using gloves, or just have a slice of lime handy afterward because the hot peppers can burn your hands. Rubbing your hands with lime can help alleviate any burning.
Using your hands, form the mixture into meatballs, using 2 Tbsp of the mixture per meatball. Or a one ounce ice cream scoop. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the meatballs onto the pan. Place the sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until crisp and browned.
- Add the meatballs into your cooked marinara sauce, top your pasta with meatballs, stuff your sandwich with meatballs, or smother it in a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.
Makes 40 meatballs.
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