Gluten Free Lean Beef Meatballs with Vegetables and Quinoa

It is still cold and rainy. It’s time for another winter warmer – gluten free meatballs with a difference. The objective was to create a recipe for a tasty, soft and juicy meatballs with some heat from chilli, incorporating vegetables and quinoa. Another objective was to have an easy dish,  cooked in one pot with minimum processes involved, and without any precooked ingredients.


These are gluten free meatballs form lean, grass-fed beef with zucchini, carrots and red quinoa as extra ingredients.


  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 50g (1/3 cup) red organic quinoa, washed
  • 1 egg
  • bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely diced (whole or deseeded, depending of how hot you want the sauce)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 tins of diced tomatoes
  • 1+ tea spoon of cumin
  • 2-3 table spoons of olive oil
  • salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tea spoon of sugar optional, if canned tomatoes are too acidic


  • heat olive oil in a shallow casserole pan on low heat
  • add diced chilli and sliced garlic, cook them for 3 min
  • add contents of 2 tins of diced tomatoes, season with salt, cover with a lid and cook for 10 min
  • add an egg, onion, carrot, zucchini, red quinoa, parsley, cumin to beef mince
  • season with salt and pepper, mix all ingredients together until fully combined
  • make meatballs the size of a golf ball
  • place meatballs into simmering tomato sauce


  • cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 50 min
  • let meatballs rest for 10-15 min
  • serve with gluten free pasta and grated parmesan, or alternatively, as we often do, with steamed vegetables of your choice

Different tinned tomatoes vary in their acidity, so it might be necessary to add 1-2 tea spoons of sugar to balance the taste. It’s better done closer to the end of the cooking time, because  the acidity becomes more mellow with cooking. Avoid stirring at the beginning while meatballs are still raw, they can disintegrate.  As soon as they become firm stirring is not a problem. By the end of the cooking time, the sauce will thicken, and by the end of resting time it will be nearly fully absorbed. The final taste develops during resting time, but we have discovered that the next day meatballs were even better. I was very apprehensive at the beginning when tasted the sauce. It tasted too acidic and too hot. At one stage I thought that the result would be just dreadful. But it all changed with cooking and I really enjoyed my meatballs with gluten free spaghetti.


My husband loves his steamed broccoli with everything. I did not notice the particular taste of quinoa, but it added to the texture of meatballs. For the meatballs from a very lean beef mince, without any extra fat added, they were surprisingly soft and juicy, but kept their shape through cooking. The heat from bird’s-eye chilli mellowed with cooking, too. The sauce became very thick and had a delicious balance of heat, acidity and sweetness. I had a sigh of relief in the end to finish with the dish I liked very much.


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