One of the greatest challenges of adhering to a vegetarian diet is finding suitable meat alternatives that satisfy the flavors your palate craves. Some of my friends have asked me how I deal with cravings for steak and hamburgers, two foods that often deter aspiring vegetarians from being successful. I have never really craved “meat” but I do find myself often scratching my head when it comes to eating enough foods containing plant-based proteins. And for those looking to “re-create” dishes like hamburgers, meatballs and other meat-based dishes, I’ve found lentils and quinoa (particularly red quinoa) to be satiating, palate-pleasing alternatives.
High in protein, iron, fiber, folate, Vitamin B1 and minerals, lentils contain more protein than most legumes and nuts. Quinoa, often deemed a superfood, is a complete protein while offering a sufficient amount of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium. I’ve never actually included both of these foods together in one dish, but I thought they might work well together in a vegetarian meatball.
Since we’re in the middle of football season and the Super Bowl is just one week away, I thought I’d create a healthy twist on a game-time favorite, specifically for vegetarians. Meatballs are widely popular for viewing parties, particularly because they are easy to make, versatile, portable, and most importantly, flavorful. Walmart.com offers a ton of popular game-time recipes, including a Tostitos Mozzarella Boulettes recipe that looked absolutely delicious. The recipe is simple and features just 4 ingredients including Tostitos Scoops! Tortilla Chips, Tostitos Salsa, lean ground beef and mozzarella cheese. My challenge? To recreate this recipe for vegetarians!
I’ve had lentil and quinoa-based burgers so I knew that either would work well as a vegetarian meatball. My hope was that the combination would make for a heartier, more flavorful meatball that would still hold together when paired with a dip, sauce, or salsa. All of the ingredients needed for this recipe can be found in the grocery section of your local Walmart. My local store has increased the variety of items available under the Wild Oats Organic label so I picked up a package of Red Quinoa to include with this recipe.
This recipe features a handful of fresh veggies and spices along with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and an egg (which helps to hold the mixture together). I opted to leave out the mozzarella cheese, bake them (instead of frying) and serve them with a touch of salsa on a Tostitos Scoops! Tortilla Chip! Here is my recipe for Green Lentil and Red Quinoa Meatballs.
- 1/2 cup green lentils cooked
- 1/2 cup red quinoa cooked
- 2/3 cup green onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg beaten slightly
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tostitos Scoops Tortilla Chips
- Tostitos Salsa
Cook green lentils and red quinoa according to package
Drain lentils and quinoa, if necessary
Sauté green onion (including white part of the green onion) and garlic in olive oil until soft but not brown
Mash green lentils with a fork
Combine green lentils, red quinoa, sautéed vegetables, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, egg and spices in a bowl
Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight
Form meatballs out of mixture
Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes
Serve meatballs in tortilla chips with a teaspoon of salsa
One of the things I love about this recipe is the texture of the “meatballs” and how well they stayed together during baking. Mashing the lentils and refrigerating the mixture before forming the “meatballs” guarantees the most success. If you think you’ll run short on time come game day, you might prepare the mixture the day before and refrigerate it so the only “work” you’ll have to complete is forming and baking the “meatballs.”
Looking for additional Game Time Recipes? Visit Walmart.com/GameTimeRecipes for quick, easy snacks and meals to keep you fueled up on the big day. You can also visit my fellow Walmart Moms for additional inspired recipes.