Tender Greens’ Chef Marcus Twilegar transforms classic Italian meatballs into a hearty vegetarian dish by substituting quinoa and mushrooms for ground meat. Serve it with pappardelle pasta, a simple tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan.
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 T. smoked paprika
12 oz. crimini mushrooms, stems discarded and caps finely diced
2 T. tomato paste
3/4 c. cooked quinoa, rinsed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan
1/3 c. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Shaved Parmesan to garnish
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and coat with oil. When the oil is hot, add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until soft. Stir in garlic, thyme and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 35 seconds.
Stir in mushrooms, increase heat and continue to cook until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Place quinoa in a bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Set aside to cool at least 5 minutes.
Once it’s cooled, add eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley and mix thoroughly. Make a miniature patty, warm in a pan and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Dampen hands with water. Measure tablespoon portions and roll into approximately 30 1-inch balls. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with oil.
Place “meatballs” in a 350-degree oven and bake until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.
Suggested pairing: Hefeweizen (wheat) beer
Recipes: By Mary James