The introduction had me after the first four words, “Not your average meatball.” But then it went on to say, “This modern version is an instant hit for any gathering. Great for finger food or served on a sandwich.” A vision of a juicy, meatball sandwich tantalized me and forced me to run around my kitchen to check if I had the ingredients for this recipe. The ingredients are an interesting combination: pickled jalapeño peppers add kick and lime juice adds tang, but these meatballs also contain good-for-you quinoa, which adds moisture to the meatballs, and not-so-good-for-you bacon, which adds great flavor. Like life, these meatballs are all about balance!
Santa Fe Meatballs
From the cookbook Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
6 slices bacon, finely chopped and cooked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, Italian parsley or curly parsley
2 large eggs
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp minced pickled jalapeños
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1. Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Combine the ground meat, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, bacon, onion, cilantro, eggs, garlic, jalapeños, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Blend well and form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
4. Place meatballs on a large nonstick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, then turn the meatballs and cook for another 7-8 minutes, until they are no longer pink inside.
5. Juice the lime and drizzle over the meatballs. Serve immediately.
Makes about 50.
1. I used ground turkey with good results. The turkey meat remained moist.
2. I know it runs contrary to the reason for putting bacon in a recipe, but I did trim a lot of the fat away while cutting up the bacon. It just didn’t make sense to use ground turkey and then add fat back into the recipe.
3. Because I have friends who are not fond of cilantro, I used a mixture of fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. That way, a little bit of cilantro flavor comes through, but it’s not a dominant flavor in the meatballs.
4. I used three limes. Two for their juice and one for garnish.
5. You will have leftover quinoa. Refrigerate it for future use or make a small quinoa salad to eat with the meatballs.
6. I used a 1-inch, spring-loaded, ice cream scoop to create even-sized meatballs. If you don’t have a scoop like this, pinching off equal-sized portions of meat and rolling them between your palms works well, too.
7. I poured the lime juice into a large bowl and gently tossed the hot meatballs in the juice before plating them.
8. The recipe states, “To keep this gluten-free, make sure you use gluten-free bacon.”