clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
Zucchini Quinoa Meatless Meatballs

Zucchini Quinoa Meatless Meatballs

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 18 large meatballs
  • Category: entree
  • Method: fried
  • Cuisine: Italian


Adapted from Lidia’s Italy.


1 cup cooked quinoa (we used rainbow quinoa)

1 medium zucchini, shredded on large holes of box grater and all liquid squeezed out with a dish towel (1 cup)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup finely minced onion

8 eggs

¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2 ½ cups panko bread crumbs

1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 inches vegetable oil in a 4 to 5-quart pot or Dutch oven

For serving:

Prepared Marinara sauce, see our easy recipe here, or your favorite jarred variety


Cook the quinoa according to package directions, cool and reserve one cup. Set aside.

Grate the zucchini and squeeze out the water and measure out one cup. A little over is fine.

In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil and over medium heat, cook onions to soft, about 3-4 minutes. Cool and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.

Add in cooled quinoa, zucchini, onions, parsley, oregano, basil, panko, Parmesan, Romano and salt and stir with a wooden spoon.

Use an ice cream scoop and scoop out 18 balls onto your cutting board. Then roll them into balls and place on a small sheet tray and refrigerate 45-60 minutes to firm up.

Fill a 4 to 5 quart pot or Dutch oven with about 4 inches of oil. Place a candy thermometer in the pot and heat to 365 degrees F.

Roll the balls again if they have a flat bottom and place in the hot oil using a slotted spoon and cook in two batches for about three minutes per batch or until browned (9 per batch). See notes below. Remove to a rack sitting over a pan and sprinkle on a little table salt while still hot.

Finally, either continue cooking all 18 in the oven for 10 minutes covered with foil, or cook in a pot of marinara sauce for 10 minutes to cook all the way through.

Serve with more marinara sauce and extra Parmesan cheese.


When Lidia made her recipe, she made 36 smaller balls so she only needed to fry them. I made mine double that size so as a result, after frying, they need to continue to cook either in the marinara sauce for 10 minutes or in a 350-degree oven covered in foil (so the meatballs don’t brown too much) for 10 minutes to cook them all the way through.

Keywords: meatless, meatballs, quinoa, zucchini