Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turkey Quinoa Meatballs with Veggie Marinara

Who isn't looking for a good quinoa recipe nowadays? With all of the health benefits it has to offer, I'm always looking for ways to add it into my food. Since it is kind of mealy, I am happy any time I can work it into something else.

I was surfing around on Pinterest and came across a turkey quinoa meatball recipe. I thought it looked pretty good so I started looking around some more. After checking out quite few recipes, I knew how I wanted to make them! This recipe has been adapted from formerfatdudes.com. I changed the meat to be leaner, added more veggies, and changed the type of quinoa and tomatoes. Their recipe looked good, but this one is leaner and packs more of a protein punch.

I love making many different types of marinara, so this one was a no-brainier. I actually adapted it from my own garden vegetable marinara recipe and think I might just use this as my go to sauce. :)

Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

1.25 pounds ground turkey breast
3/4 cup cooked black quinoa
1/3 cup grated onions*
1/3 cup grated carrots*
1/3 cup grated zucchini*
2 tablespoons crushed tomato (buy a 28oz can & use the rest for the sauce)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 egg

*Grate the whole vegetable and save what you don't use in the meatballs for the sauce.

Preheat oven to 500F, line a large baking sheet with foil and a sheet of parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together meat, quinoa, onions, carrots, zucchini, crushed tomato, garlic, worcestershire, seasonings and egg until well combined. You will want to do this with your hands to get everything mixed well. Be careful not to over mix - this will keep the meatballs tender.

Shape in to 13 even-sized meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through about 20 minutes, turn over once about 15 minutes in so they brown evenly (although the meatballs will be light in color, the bottoms will brown up).

Place over cooked polenta and top with veggie marinara (recipe below), fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. As an aside, when I make my polenta, I add grated Parmesan but omit butter or cream.

Veggie Marinara Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp (more to taste) crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
Remainder of grated veggies
6-7 cloves garlic (sliced)
The remainder of the crushed tomatoes
Tablespoon (or more) fresh basil

Warm up oil with seasonings in a deep 10" wide pan. Add onion, zucchini and carrots and let sweat out over med+ heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for and additional 10 minutes. Lower to med-low heat and allow to simmer for as long as everything else takes to come together. The natural sweetness of the veggies helps take the sharpness out of the tomatoes. The longer the sauce cooks, the less acidic it becomes.

Nutritional Info:
Meatballs (each) - 94.5 calories; 12g protein; 8g carbs; 1.5g fat
1/2 cup sauce - 123 calories; 2.8g protein; 15g carbs; 5.5g fat (don't stress over the fat, it is a good fat from the olive oil)
1/2 cup prepared polenta w/ Parmesan - 123.5 calories; 4.6g protein; 20.8g carbs; 2.7g fat

You could also serve these over spaghetti squash instead of the polenta which would cut the calories and be very tasty.