Jan 30
2013

Baked Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps

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Baked Turkey Meatballs, stuffed with quinoa and zucchini and served on lettuce wraps, is a recipe that will please even the pickiest eater.
Baked Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps by Cookin' Canuck #recipes #meatballs

It’s amazing what kids will eat when you pack it in a meatball. My 8-year old son, lover of all vegetables and fruits, will not be convinced that quinoa is something that should actually be consumed by humans. In fact, he does a rather convincing impersonation of a fish freshly yanked from the water whenever I dare to serve the healthy grain. Spluttering, gasping, practically flopping on the floor. If I wasn’t putting on the performance of an annoyed mother – hands on hips, foot tapping rapidly on the hardwood floor – I might actually give him a standing ovation.

As I scooped the meatballs onto the plates, I beckoned my husband over to the stove and whispered, “These are filled with grated zucchini…and quinoa.” {Snicker, snicker.} With knowing smiles and conspiratorial winks, we placed the plates in front of the boys, holding our collective breath.

Now, it helps that one their favorite dinners is Baked Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs, served over rice, alongside stir-fried veggies. The reaction to that dinner usually involves fist pumps and Tim Tebow poses. It does a cooking ego good. So, meatballs of any sort are bound to be well-received, right?

Right?

“Mum, these aren’t good…they’re great!” “Can we have them in our lunch boxes tomorrow? PLEEEAAASSSE?”

Mission accomplished. Flopping fish performance averted.

If you’re craving a light meal, wrap the meatballs in lettuce leaves with a touch of sauce. For something more substantial, even Super Bowl-worthy (see my 25 Super Bowl Recipes), serve the meatballs in mini buns. Everybody loves a meatballs slider!

The recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, cooked quinoa, grated onion, garlic, zucchini, parsley, dried chile flakes, soy sauce, oregano, ground pepper and egg.

Baked Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps by Cookin' Canuck #recipes #meatballs

Mix well to combine. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon portion of the turkey mixture, form meatballs by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Baked Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps by Cookin' Canuck #recipes #meatballs

While the meatballs are cooking, heat the tomato sauce in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and gently stir to coat the meatballs.

Baked Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps by Cookin' Canuck #recipes #meatballs

Spoon the meatballs and sauce into a bowl, serve alongside the lettuce leaves and Parmesan cheese.

Serve 2 meatballs and 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese in each lettuce wrap.

Find the ingredients on Amazon: Organic Quinoa, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Soy Sauce or Tamari Soy Sauce (Wheat Free) and Organic Tomato Sauce

Other meatball recipes:

Meatball Recipes by Cookin' Canuck
Cookin’ Canuck’s Baked Caprese Turkey Meatball Recipe with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil Pesto
Cookin’ Canuck’s Baked Teriyaki Turkey Meatball Recipe

Italian Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 9 wraps

Serving Size: 1 lettuce leaf, 2 meatballs in sauce, 1 tsp Parmes

Calories per serving: 174 cal (complete nutritional data listed below)

Fat per serving: Total 7.1g / Saturated Fat 2.2g

Italian Turkey, Quinoa & Zucchini Meatballs Recipe in Lettuce Wraps

From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (your favorite kind)
  • 9 medium to large butter lettuce leaves
  • 6 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, cooked quinoa, grated onion, garlic, zucchini, parsley, dried chile flakes, soy sauce, oregano, ground pepper and egg.
  3. Mix well to combine. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon portion of the turkey mixture, form meatballs by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  4. Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, heat the tomato sauce in a large saucepan set over medium heat.
  6. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and gently stir to coat the meatballs.
  7. Spoon the meatballs and sauce into a bowl, serve alongside the lettuce leaves and Parmesan cheese.
  8. Serve 2 meatballs and 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese in each lettuce wrap.

Notes

Calories 174.4 / Total Fat 7.1g / Saturated Fat 2.2g / Cholesterol 67.6mg / Sodium 529mg / Total Carbohydrates 12g / Fiber 2.1g / Sugars 3.2g / Protein 16.6g / WW (Old Points) 4 / WW (Points+) 4

Disclosure: This post contains links to my Amazon affiliate page. Any revenue made from sales through these links helps to support this blog. Thank you!

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Blog is the New black January 30, 2013 at 5:29 am

Love the addition of quinoa!

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2 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective January 30, 2013 at 7:43 am

My friend… these have got to be the prettiest meatballs I’ve ever seen. Love the fact that they are served as lettuce wraps.

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3 Becky @ Olives n Wine January 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

I LOOOOVE adding zucchini to meatballs or hamburgers or meatloaf or… well, you get the idea ;) I can’t wait to try your meatballs in a healthy lettuce wrap!

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4 megan @ whatmegansmaking January 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

I never thought to serve meatballs in lettuce wraps before! My husband might throw a fit, but I think I’m going to try it :)

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5 Cassie | Bake Your Day January 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

These meatballs are a fabulous idea, Dara. I must try meatballs in lettuce wraps, great idea!

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6 Liz @ The Lemon Bowl January 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

Love the chili flakes and pinch of soy in these – plus all of the other healthy goodies!! Well done, Dara!

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7 Aggie January 30, 2013 at 8:58 am

My kids really love meatballs, I’ve snuck spinach in them, but never quinoa & zucchini! These look fantastic! And I really like how you served them, fun & healthy!!

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8 Maria January 30, 2013 at 9:40 am

What a fun and creative recipe! You always come up with the best stuff Dara!

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9 kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts January 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

Hey, I just made sloppy joes with some of the shredded zucchini I’d put up this summer . . . and wouldn’t you know it was a guy at work who was snookered into eating green veggies??! I did come clean about it later . . .
I’m definitely going to try this with one of the other packages of zucchini in my freezer (the garden went a bit nuts when my back was turned). Though I’ll add rice or something for the quinoa–it just looks like semi-unfurled prophylactics to me!
Thanks–and sorry if I just made you never look at quinoa the same way again. Some things you just can’t un-see.

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10 Alyssa @ Kitchen Cures January 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

These look like such a fun take on lettuce wraps (which I love)! I was just wondering if you’re supposed to add 1 1/4 pounds of turkey?

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11 Bree {Skinny Mommy} January 30, 2013 at 10:01 am

I agree! I bet my kids would gobble these right up! Gorgeous pics too!

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12 Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

These look so tasty, Dara! I love any and all lettuce wraps.

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13 Denise Browning@From Brazil To You January 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

Healthylicious are these meatballs real name!!!! Love this recipe… xx

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14 addie | culicurious January 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

YUM, I love the idea of packing your protein, starch and veg in the same little package. And the fact that it’s meatballs – perfect! I love the simple way you’ve served them too.

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15 Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife January 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

These meatballs look phenomenal!

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16 Prerna@IndianSimmer January 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I make something similar with ground lamb and quinoa and some Indian spices thrown in (obviously) whole coriander seeds being my favorite one of them.
Next time I make those will be adding zucchini and serving on cold lettuce wrap sounds like a great idea!

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17 patsy January 30, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I’m definitely going to have to try these meatballs on my boys! I’ve been trying to find a way to introduce quinoa to them (and my husband), and this seems like a good way to add it in without the “funny” looks I get when I put a new whole grain on the table.

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18 Maria January 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Do you have any suggestions for an egg substitute? My son is allergic but this recipe looks great. I can remove the cheese (dairy allergy too).
Thanks!

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19 Vicki @ WITK January 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I am always hiding healthy food, from my boyfriend! He refuses to eat anything fruit/vegetable, unless it’s a starch. Thanks for this recipe, it looks like something he would love.

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20 Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. January 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Way to sneak in quinoa! I often to have to try to trick my husband! :)

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21 Minnie(@thelady8home) January 31, 2013 at 5:39 am

I am drooling over those meat balls. :-D They look too too tempting. Wish could pick up one and take bite.

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22 Laurie {Simply Scratch} January 31, 2013 at 7:22 am

Whoa! These meatballs look fabulous Dara… I would never guess they have all those healthy ingredients packed in them!

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23 Bev @ Bev Cooks January 31, 2013 at 7:33 am

I’m seriously sick for these bawwwwwls.

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24 Kalyn January 31, 2013 at 8:58 am

These sound so good; love the idea of using quinoa!

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25 Karyn Good January 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

Okay, these sounds delicious! I’m definitely going to give these a try.

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26 Carla @ Carlas Confections January 31, 2013 at 10:49 am

I love how healthy these are without losing the flavor! Mmm I would love to gobble some of these up!

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27 Kevin @ Closet Cooking January 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm

These meatballs sound nice and tasty and healthy!

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28 Kristen February 1, 2013 at 8:11 am

Those are some seriously beautiful meatballs, girl!

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29 Jamie February 1, 2013 at 8:16 am

Even my own picky eater (or should I say Picky Non-Eater?) would go for these. I love the sneaky veg stuffed inside but I love the quinoa and what it’ll give the meatballs. Also loved that they are baked. Beautiful dish!

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30 Culinary Schools February 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm

My gosh these sound amazing, but I may have to give in and try them with spaghetti.

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31 Christy February 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Can I prep these into balls , then freeze? If so…how hot and for how long would I bake them once frozen?

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32 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) February 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Hi Christy, I would suggest cooking the meatballs before freezing them. Cook according to the directions, let them cool to room temperature, place the entire tray of meatballs in the freezer to flash freeze them. Once they’re frozen, you can take the meatballs off of the tray and transfer them to freezer bags or some sort of freezer-proof storage container.

When you’re ready to use them, just take out the amount of meatballs you need. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and heat the frozen meatballs on a baking sheet for approximately 20 minutes.

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33 Kate March 3, 2013 at 9:40 am

I made these last night and they turned out great! I added sun-dried tomatoes and pesto for extra flavor – so good! Thanks for the recipe

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34 Joan Frazier March 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

These are incredibly good, and about as healthy as a meatball can get! Thanks.

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35 Erin March 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm

These are delicious!! But how do you get the balls so nicely formed? I have to basically spoon them onto the cookie sheet in little piles…the mixture seems really wet :/

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36 Suma April 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Can i use oats instead of quinoa?

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37 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Hi Suma, I’ve never tried it with oats, so I don’t know how it would turn out. Let me know if you give it a try. I’d love to know!

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38 amber August 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Umm…I just put one cup (before cooked=much more than one cup after cooked) into this recipe. Is there anything I can do besides buy two more pkgs of turkey and triple the recipe?? Any tips appreciated :)

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39 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) August 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hi Amber – Yes, one cup of uncooked does definitely give you a lot of cooked quinoa! :) I did a post a little while ago that gives tips on freezing cooked quinoa (so great to have frozen quinoa on hand!). That post also includes some of my favorite quinoa recipes, as well as links from other bloggers. Here’s that post: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2013/03/how-to-freeze-quinoa-and-quinoa-recipe-link-up/ I hope that helps!

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40 Lauren March 14, 2014 at 2:51 pm

These sound amazing! In fact they are in my oven as we speak! I’ll let you know how they turn out! In the meantime I would recommend draining the water from the zucchini and mincing the onion instead of grating it to cut down on the water content. The meat mixture was far too wet to work with. I made due but I think adding those two changes would really help! Will let you know how fantastic
They are!

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41 Jack March 19, 2014 at 11:38 am

The meatballs look awesome. I am always trying to do new stuff with quinoa. For the lettuce wraps I would include some slaw done with some toasted sesame Asian salad dressing.

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