Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs

I love quinoa because it’s nutritious and high in proteins, so I often use it as an ingredient to make quinoa salads, but every time I do that, I find myself with a lot of extra quinoa that I can’t seem to consume. I want to dispose of it somehow, but I hate wasting food! This is why at some point I’ve come up with the idea of making vegetarian quinoa meatballs.

Polpette di quinoa - Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs

These vegetarian quinoa and vegetable meatballs are not only quick to prepare, but also a real treat to eat: they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and for obscure chemical reasons that I cannot explain taste a bit like chicken (I swear!), even if there’s no chicken in the recipe at all. Try them and tell me if you would not swear they’d contain chicken! It is somewhat like what happened with the lentil meatballs with tomato sauce, which taste pretty much identical to beef meatballs: sometimes, you can make magic with vegetables!

This recipe lends itself to many variations, and can very easily become both gluten-free and vegan. Our friends with Celiac disease can eat quinoa, so they only need to replace the breadcrumbs in the recipe with gluten-free breadcrumbs and they are good to go. Our vegan friends will have to replace the eggs with the vegan flax seed concoction, and grated cheese with nutritional yeast flakes. This way, we should all be in a position to eat these delicious meatballs without problems.

Polpette di quinoa - Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs

Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Antipasto
Cuisine Italiana
Servings 4


  • 200 g quinoa
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 celery rib
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 handful of fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small handful of parsley
  • 2 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsps breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil


  • Cook the quinoa in about 1/2 liter of salted water or according to the instructions on the package, then drain and let cool.
    200 g quinoa
  • While the quinoa cools, wash all the vegetables, chop them finely (excluding the peas, which you can leave whole), and sauté them in a little olive oil.
    2 carrots, 1 shallot, 1/2 celery rib, 1 zucchini, 1 handful of fresh or frozen peas, 1 garlic clove, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Mix the quinoa with the sautéed vegetables, coarsely chopped parsley, grated cheese, and eggs, then season with a little salt and pepper.
    1 small handful of parsley, 2 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, salt and pepper
  • Add the breadcrumbs only at the end if necessary: the dough must be moist but not wet, otherwise the meatballs may crumble during cooking. Use your hands to shape the meatballs, and heat about an inch of olive oil to cook the meatballs until golden and crispy. Be extra mindful of flipping the meatballs gently so they don't fall apart.
    4 tbsps breadcrumbs, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Serve hot or cold, with a nice fresh salad as a side dish.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you are looking for guidance about the best gluten-free quinoa to buy, I like this one on Amazon from Better Body Foods which is also organic, non-GMO and kosher certified – and no, this is not a sponsored post :) I get a few other products from the same brand such as my chia seeds, and I love not only the actual product quality but also the convenient size and shape of their containers.

Polpette di quinoa - Vegetarian Quinoa Meatballs

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