In just a few simple steps, you can make gluten-free vegetarian meatballs at home! These veggie-packed meatballs are ready within 25 minutes and combine cooked red quinoa and lentils, hemp seeds, and Manchego or parmesan cheese to hold their shape nicely once baked.
I developed these gluten free vegetarian meatballs for an event I hosted a few years ago where I demo-ed how to use hemp hearts in various recipes. I served it as a cute veggie meatball holiday appetizer for those sad gluten-free vegetarians who never get to eat anything off the cater waiter trays.
But as I discovered upon returning to an empty fridge, and subsequently defrosting the dozen meatless meatballs squirreled away in my freezer, these cuties taste even better over spaghetti as a weeknight dinner. (Duh.)
One of my favorite gluten-free recipe suggestions for a weeknight dinner is meatballs. So I wanted to share these gluten free vegetarian meatballs as an alternative to my go-to classic Italian gluten-free chicken meatballs and these 25-minute gluten-free beef meatballs (both site-wide favorites).
Since my SIBO diet days, it’s been a slow road back to embracing lentils as part of my diet. But vegetarian dinner recipes like these veggie meatballs make it much easier to ramp up your consumption little by little.
Lentils (especially from a can) are one of the easier legumes to tolerate, and since these meatless meatballs are also full of quinoa, there’s very little of them that ends up in the final nugget.
Plus, since they are so small, you can get away with starting with just a few on your plate.
I get asked all the time what my current food rules are now that I’m not only focusing on low FODMAP dinner recipes, and the answer is only gluten-free. I try to eat a diverse diet otherwise, especially whole grains and legumes. Your gut is fiber’s number one fan. It’s a total Belie(fi)ber.
These veggie meatballs are like little fiber piñatas that your gut bacteria can’t wait to crack open and feast upon. Not only are they packed with quinoa, lentils, shallots and herbs, but they’ve also got a handful of hemp seeds instead of breadcrumbs!
The addition of fiber makes them better on your blood sugar, which can be an unfortunate downside of gluten-free vegetarian recipes that tend to focus on carbs as the main filler.
How to serve and store these veggie meatballs
If you don’t want the additional carbs from serving these plant-based meatballs over pasta, you can simply use them as a main course salad topper or eat them “naked” drizzled with marinara or one of these gluten-free sauces and condiments.
This recipe makes two dozen meatless meatballs, so consider freezing a portion for more desperate empty-fridge times.
Can these quinoa meatballs be dairy-free and vegan?
Finally, if you want to make these vegetarian meatballs also dairy-free, you can easily omit the cheese. I just love a little manchego for flavor, but they will bind perfectly fine with just the egg. You can likely swap the egg for a flax egg to make vegan quinoa meatballs, but I haven’t personally tried it, so proceed at your own risk! The mashed lentils do help things stay together but the quinoa requires a little extra glue.
More gluten-free meatball recipes:
- Gluten-Free Lamb Meatballs
- Vegan Swedish Meatballs
- Low FODMAP Meatballs
- Gluten-Free Chicken Tikka Meatballs
- Paleo Sheet Pan Meatballs
Read on for this veggie quinoa meatballs recipe!
With health and hedonism,
Gluten-Free Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/3 pound aged Manchego cheese or Parmesan cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large shallot
- 3 cups cooked lentils from 1 cup dry, see note
- 2 cups cooked quinoa from 1 cup dry, see note
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and paprika until combined.
- In a food processor, pulse the Manchego until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the egg mixture.
- Add the parsley, garlic, and shallot to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Add the lentils to the food processor and pulse until a coarse paste. Transfer to the mixing bowl along with the quinoa and hemp seeds. Fold the meatball mixture together until combined.
- With clean hands, form the quinoa-lentil mixture into 1-inch balls (you can use a tablespoon to portion) and arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets ½ inch apart. You should get 2 dozen mini meatballs.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve over your favorite spaghetti and tomato sauce. Or even better, one of these gluten-free sauces!