There's a certain magic in a meal that can be pulled together on the stovetop, with just a handful of everyday ingredients and not a whole lot of brain power.

Put this healthy meatball dish on your list of fuss-free favorites you'll want to make again and again. As flavorful as it is easy, it requires just five ingredients (if you don't include oil or salt and pepper), and the most common of kitchen utensils: a saucepan and nonstick skillet.

Meatballs need to be bound with some sort of filler to hold the meat together while cooking. Often it's eggs, crackers, panko or bread soaked in milk. This recipe goes gluten-free by using a mix of cooked quinoa and hummus as a binder.

A member of the goosefoot family, which includes beets, spinach and chard, quinoa is a complete protein that contains all eight essential amino acids. It's also rich in fiber and various vitamins and minerals, making it a "superfood." Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, also boasts some nutritional heft.

Added to ground chicken, the result is a plant protein-packed dish that's not only light and healthful, but also incredibly satisfying.

Charred carrots add a touch of sweetness, and you'll definitely also taste the garlic. If you're not a fan, substitute lemon or plain hummus. White quinoa cooks up fluffier than red, so try not to substitute.

A small squeeze of lemon before serving will brighten the flavor.



PG tested

1 1/2 cups prewashed white quinoa

3/4 cup garlic hummus, divided

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 pound ground chicken

1 pound carrots with their greens, carrots peeled and sliced thin on bias, 1/3 cup greens chopped

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

Heat quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until very fragrant and making continuous popping sounds, around 7 minutes.

Stir in 1 3/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, 18 to 22 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then gently fluff with fork and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk 1/2 cup hummus, lemon juice and 4 teaspoons olive oil together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set sauce aside until ready to serve.

Combine chicken, 1 cup cooled quinoa, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and remaining 1/4 cup hummus in large bowl. Using damp hands, gently mix until combined. Roll mixture into 20 tightly packed 1 1/2 -inch meatballs.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add meatballs and cook until well browned and cooked through, 9 to 11 minutes, turning gently as needed. Transfer meatballs to platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add carrots, 3 tablespoons water and a generous pinch of salt to now-empty skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until carrots are tender and spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (Mine took about 8 minutes to char.) Stir in remaining 3 cups cooled quinoa, reduce heat to medium and cook until quinoa is warmed through, about 2 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle carrot greens on top, along with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve with meatballs and hummus dressing drizzled on top, or on the side for dipping.

Serves 4.

— "Five Ingredient Dinners: 100+ Fast, Flavorful Meals" by America's Test Kitchen (2021)


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