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Easy Vegetarian Meatballs with Lentils and Quinoa (Gluten-Free)

This easy vegetarian meatballs recipe uses red quinoa, lentils, and hemp seeds. It's a meatless gluten-free version of spaghetti and meatballs! You can also serve these little balls as a simple meatless appetizer.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 dozen mini meatballs


  • 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 Manchebo 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


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and paprika until combined.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the Manchego until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the egg mixture.
  4. Add the parsley, garlic, and shallot to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve over your favorite spaghetti and tomato sauce. Or even better, this simple romesco sauce!

Recipe Notes

To cook the lentils, place 1 cup dried lentils in a medium lidded saucepan and cover with 2 inches water. Add a bay leaf and two garlic cloves (optional). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Remove the aromatics, if using. To cook the quinoa, combine 1 cup dried quinoa in a medium lidded saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 17 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Then fluff with a fork. If you don't have a food processor, you can simply grate the cheese and mince everything by hand.