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I've been making a meal very similar to the one in this post ever since Jared and I got married. I decided, now that I'm an adult, I need to start cooking! This recipe was my favorite because it was so easy, filling and tasty. I've never had meatballs better than this, and they couldn't be simpler. Now, as I am a more seasoned cook, I decided to update this tried and true recipe to suit my current tastes. After a week of eating oatmeal for breakfast and pizza for lunch and pasta with toast for dinner (no joke!), I decided I needed to cut back a bit on my gluten intake. So, instead of couscous which the original recipe called for, I switched to quinoa. I've also been trying to eat more vegetables, so I threw in some spinach. I new it would be a more nutritious version, but I didn't realize how much better it would taste! I had to share it with you.

First, get your quinoa cooking. You'll need 1 cup - 1 1/2 cups of quinoa, cook according to package directions.
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Quinoa is all the rage right now, but it really is good! It is a gluten-free seed that has a couscous like consistency and a nutty flavor when cooked. If you haven't tried it, I definitely recommend it. 
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Next, make your meatballs! Well, first, preheat your oven to 350. Then, make your meatballs! You will need 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, 1/2 cup pesto, 1 egg, salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Isn't cooking fun?
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Now mold the meat into 12 equally sized meatballs. Grease a cookie sheet or some other pan with a rim with just enough olive oil, you don't want to fry your meatballs. Unless you do, I bet that would taste awesome! Place the meatballs in the pan.
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Bake for 15 minutes and flip the meatballs. Then bake for another 10 minutes. While the meatballs are cooking, wilt some spinach. You will need: 2 bags of pre-washed spinach and about 2 inches of water in a pretty big pot. Boil the water and then throw in as much spinach as will fit into the pot.
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Stir it around with the hot water and as it starts to wilt continue to add more spinach, until you have cooked both bags. 
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Man I love spinach. I love how it leaves your teeth feeling clean, you know what I mean? Maybe that's just me. Once you cooked down both bags, drain out the water and set the spinach aside. When your meatballs are done, spoon the quinoa into bowls, and top with 3 meatballs and a healthy helping of spinach. Top with some more pesto mixed with a bit of olive oil to make it more like a sauce. If you're pesto is already quite liquidy then skip this step, you can just spoon it over the meatballs and spinach as it is. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired, and serve!
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This recipe could be easily adapted to be gluten free; just substitute the bread crumbs in the meatballs with some gluten free stuff, or take it out altogether. Your meatballs may not stay together as well, but you break 'em apart anyway when you eat. Pesto Meatballs with Quinoa and Spinach could also be dairy free if you don't add parmesan cheese. Just make sure to buy (or make) a pesto that does not have any cheese in it already.
Pesto Meatballs with Quinoa and Spinach
Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup pesto
1 egg
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 bags pre-washed spinach
salt and pepper
olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare quinoa with package directions. In a large bowl combine ground beef, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the pesto, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Grease a rimmed pan with olive oil. Form 12 evenly sized meatballs and place on pan. Bake for 15 minutes, turn once and bake for another 10 minutes. You might want to cut up one meatball to make sure it's done before serving. Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Add as much spinach as will fit in the pot and cook down until there is room for more spinach. In this way wilt all the spinach. Drain the water and set spinach aside. 

Spoon quinoa into bowls and top with 3 meatballs and lots of spinach. Mix 1/4 cup of pesto with some olive oil to make it more liquidy, if necessary. Top meatballs and spinach with pesto. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on it too, why not?

 


01/29/2011 08:46

Whoa, this picture immediately made my mouth start watering. How wonderful!

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