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Quinoa Balls with Pine Nuts and Raisins

This recipe for quinoa balls with pine nuts and raisins is a vegetarian adaptation of my favorite Mediterranean-inspired lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins. It was created for a pescatarian friend who exclaimed that all I made was meaty dishes. Personally, I think the “all the meat” complaint was hyperbole, but here we are.

These quinoa balls are packed with protein. And the raisins and cinnamon provide a touch of sweetness that even your picky kids will love.

Make it a meal. Serve these quinoa balls with my lemon herb tahini sauce, homemade pita, and a pumpkin couscous salad on the side.

four quinoa balls on a pita with feta, lemon herb tahini sauce, and parsley on a plate.

About quinoa

Quinoa is the seed of a plant that originated in the Andes. Although some varietals of quinoa are now grown in high altitude regions worldwide, the vast majority of quinoa is still grown in Peru and Bolivia.

Quinoa is high in protein and fiber. It can be served in place of rice or other whole grains. Or it works well as a binder like in these veggie balls or in this BBQ quinoa and pinto bean burger.

Tip from the wise quacker: quinoa can be a challenge if you have a young child who’s messy or who likes to throw food. I think of it like edible glitter.

Tips and tricks

Meatballs and meatloaves are really easy meals that come together quickly. These vegetarian quinoa balls are no exception.

First, lightly toast and mash a can of white beans (Panel #1 below). Toasting the beans decreases the moisture in the quinoa balls, which could make them mushy. This is a trick that I learned when I perfected my black bean burgers.

four panels showing steps in making the quinoa ball mixture.

Add the rest of the ingredients (Panel #2) and stir them together (Panel #3). Adding two lightly beaten eggs further helps bind together the quinoa balls.

If you have the time, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up. Use a medium-sized (about #40) cookie scoop or a spoon to scoop about a tablespoon and a half of the mixture and shape into golf ball-sized balls.

unbaked quinoa balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until the quinoa balls have browned. Serve hot , warm, or at room temperature.

baked quinoa balls in a small bowl.

How to serve these quinoa balls

Do you love meatball and veggie meatball dinners? Check out more options for meatballs and what to serve with meatballs for dinner.

FAQs

Do you have to rinse quinoa before cooking?

Some people say you have to rinse quinoa in order to remove the bitter coating. Others say that the quinoa we buy is pre-rinsed, and rinsing is a waste of water. Some online taste testers say they can taste the difference, while others don’t. I’ve never rinsed quinoa. Do with all of this information what you will.

Can I freeze these quinoa balls?

Yes, once they’ve been baked and cooled, pop the quinoa balls into the freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. They’ll keep for three to six months.

What can I make with leftover quinoa?

Serve as a side or at to salad. Or add quinoa to other meatballs or burgers.

Related recipes

If you don’t eat meat, check out my recipe for fawaffles (falafel waffles). If you do eat meat and love meatballs, try my braised BBQ chicken meatballs or chicken and apple meatballs.

Quinoa Balls with Pine Nuts and Raisins

5 from 1 vote
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6
Calories: 234kcal
This recipe for quinoa balls with pine nuts and raisins is a vegetarian adaptation of my favorite Mediterranean-inspired lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins. Serve with a creamy herb lemon tahini sauce, homemade pita, and a pumpkin couscous salad, and you've got a Mediterranean meal.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa from about 1 cup uncooked
  • ½ cup raisins coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted and cooled
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

Instructions

  • Turn on the oven to 375°F. Put the drained white beans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 15 minutes until lightly toasted and dried. Let cool and then partially mash in a large bowl, leaving some pieces of bean. You can use this baking sheet for baking the quinoa balls.
    1 can (15 ounces) white beans
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the eggs in into the bowl with the beans. Stir to mix.
    2 cups cooked quinoa, ½ cup raisins, ¼ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, ½ teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and stir in completely.
    2 eggs
  • If you have time, let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then use a medium cookie scoop or your hands to shape about 24 firmly-packed, golf ball-sized balls. Cook them on the parchment paper for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Notes

This recipe makes about 2 dozen quinoa balls.

Nutrition

Serving: 4quinoa balls | Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 562mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 217IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg
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What’s next

If you make these quinoa balls and love them, please leave a comment and rating. Pretty please.

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had accidentally opened a can of white beans when I was in a hurry reaching for chickpeas and then I’d remembered seeing this recipe. I’d had most of the other ingredients on hand, so I made these last night. I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out or what they’d taste like but it surprised me. A little difficult to roll into balls but I made it work (probably made them slightly bigger than called for) and they baked up very well. Ate them with some vegan chili and chickpea burgers and I thought they fit nicely with this meal. The nutty flavor and slight sweetness of the raisins was a great mix and I will definitely be making more again soon.

      1. I rolled them by hand, so just getting them to stay together more than sticking to my hands. After the first few I dampend my hands a little which seemed to help some.

        1. Great solution – that’s what I would have done too. The other thing that can help, if your quinoa and/or beans aren’t totally dry and you have the time, is giving the mixture a 30 minute rest to let it set up a bit more. It’s still going to be a bit sticky.

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