quinoa spaghetti and turkey meatballs

March 30, 2015 § 63 Comments


We’ve shifted our diet around a bit.  I am strictly buying organic foods now and we have cut out a few things.  One being gluten.  Although we don’t consider ourselves gluten intolerant (thank goodness) we decided to eliminate it for two weeks just to see what would happen.  And boy were we were surprised.  Our energy level came up significantly, that feeling of fullness disappeared, we are sleeping better and have dropped a few inches from our waistline.


At this point we are not completely gluten free, but we are making different choices when buying foods that contain gluten.  You can imagine while deciding to minimize the amount of gluten in our food the first thing that crossed my mind was pasta.  I can remove all kinds of things from my diet but pasta was going to be a huge challenge.   Semolina pasta is my comfort food.  Then lo and behold while shopping at the co-op the other day I stumbled upon a little box of quinoa pasta.  The spaghetti we usually purchase is available in 16 ounce (one pound) boxes.  This little box was only 8 ounces.  I paid for it and couldn’t wait to get home to start the meatballs.


We were pleasantly surprised with the chewy “al dente” texture of the quinoa pasta and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gluten free spaghetti option.  And I must say it felt right cooking that little 8 ounce box rather than a whole pound of spaghetti.   We were completely satiated.


Served with a sprinkling of parmesan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground organic free range ground turkey
  • 1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

M e t h o d

Sauce.  Using a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.  Do not brown.  Add the can of crushed tomatoes and lower the heat to low.  Add salt and allow to simmer.

Meatballs.  Place all ingredients in a bowl, remove your rings and mix well with your hands.  Create golf ball sized meatballs and dropped them evenly into your tomato sauce as you go.  Do not stir.  You may break up the meatballs.  Instead, take the pot by the handles and swirl the meatballs around a bit to evenly coat with sauce.  Cover and continue to simmer giving it a swirl every now and then.

Pesto.  Before you prepare the pesto, place a large pot of water on high heat.  For a quick and efficient method you may place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz.  Otherwise, chopped and mince your ingredients and place them all in a bowl and stir.  When the water is boiling cook your pasta according to the package instructions.

When pasta is done, drain and return to the pot.  Toss the pasta with the pesto. Add a few large spoonfuls of tomato sauce and toss.  Serve with a little more sauce, meatballs and parmesan.

Serves 3 with leftover meatballs.


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§ 63 Responses to quinoa spaghetti and turkey meatballs

  • I am intrigued by the quinoa pasta, how fantastic. The meatballs definitely make my mouth water now – time to cook dinner fast. N.

    • These meatballs were delicious. Gluten free! :) I usually always add panko or some sort of bread crumb to hold them together, along with egg. The almond meal worked beautifully. And the quinoa pasta is fantastic.

  • This looks like a delicious recipe. The combination of pesto and sauce got my attention. At first I thought you had prepared two separate dishes. Definitely going to try this combo. Pined for future reference.

    • Thank you Beth. This is my favorite way to prepare spaghetti. It all started years ago when I couldn’t decide if I wanted a pesto sauce or tomato sauce. I made both and ended up combining the two and fell in love with it! :)

  • This dish remind me so much of my childhood! My grandmother used to make amazing meatball spaghetti! This dish looks so vibrant and delicious! I must try the quinoa spaghetti!

  • Quinoa pasta has got me in grips now. How do you rate it taste wise on the scale from 1 to 5?
    This is such an awesome and encouraging post :).

    • Well, with 5 being the best….I give it a 5. Really Sonal, I was so in love with this pasta. I’m not one to substitute using a rice pasta when it comes to spaghetti. I love rice noodles with pho or thai food, but not with Italian sauces. Although I will likely eat semolina pasta again, I won’t buy it. I’ll only buy and make quinoa pasta now. Hope you find it and give it a try. let me know if you do. :)

  • All looks wonderfully fresh and tasty.
    I’ve never tried quinoa pasta – glad to hear you had good experience with it. I’ll give it a try soon. :)

  • Tiffaspilla says:

    Mmm looks so yum! :)

  • There are good gluten free pastas and not-so-good gluten free pastas, but I have found the quinoa pastas are the best. They do not get that slimy texture that so many gluten free pastas have after they are cooked. Your meatballs look divine.

  • Turkey meatballs is what I made for lunch this past Christmas. In fact, it’s probably the first and only time I’ve made meatballs. And, pleased to say, I really enjoyed them. What I like about turkey mince, compared to beef and all, is no gristle. Oh boy, if there’s gristle it makes me want to heave. I used to make sausage meat, years ago! And for most of my adult life, never ate meatballs/sausages/burgers since then. It’s funny what can put you off. Any particular reason to go organic, if I may ask? Base vegetables are about all I can find here.

    • I agree with you about gristle in ground beef. I prefer the taste of ground turkey over beef. Oh and I like ground chicken breast for meatballs too! Years ago I used to buy only organic foods (meat & vegetables). In the past few years I slipped and I really think I can feel a difference. Without getting too political or radical I believe non organic foods have toxins I don’t want to be ingesting. Same with water. Not drinking water from the tap anymore! That’s pretty much it (in a nutshell). Now you probably think I’m extreme! :)

  • Wow, I’ve not heard of or seen quinoa pasta before Seana… will have to have a good and proper look when next in the supermarket (or perhaps the health food store might stand a better chance). I’m loving this recipe though, especially with the pesto to toss through as well… and intrigued by the almond meal for binding the meatballs – great way of making this dish gluten-free.

    • I love having pasta with this “double sauce”. And it’s really not all that much more work to whip up a batch of pesto while the tomato sauce is simmering. I think I’ve made meatballs 3 times in the past 30 days. Can’t stop! Thank you Margot. :)

  • I’ve had quinoa pasta and really like it. Your spaghetti and meatballs looks great and I think its wonderful that you have felt a big change since changing your diet. I have wanted to try it and think I might.

    • It’s been a really nice change. We cut out dairy, gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol for 2 weeks. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Now we only eat/drink a small amount of those things. I like doing a little cleanse every now and then. It brings the diet into perspective. :) Thank you for stopping in Suzanne. Aren’t you looking forward to the Dinner Party Collective?!

  • I have a teenage daughter who loves bread and a grumpy meat, pasta, and potatoes guy for a husband who also loves bread, so it would be a challenge to go gluten free in this house. He’s also said he will never eat kale again, and I’m afraid anything quinoa might send him over the edge, lol! I do try to buy organic when I can find it at an affordable price, although one of the major supermarkets has started carrying organic at a “just a few pennies more” price depending on what it is. But you’ve posted a lovely pasta and sauces, if anything I could make the sauces with regular pasta (and of course garlic bread on the side.) ;)

    • I know what you mean. It’s so hard to change a good thing! If you love meat and potatoes it so hard to stop having that combination, even if someone told you it’s a bad combination! :/ You’d be surprised this pasta is quinoa. A few months ago I would never in a million year’s substituted semolina pasta. I’m so happy I tried it. I’ll never buy semolina pasta again, it’s that good! But don’t get me wrong…I would never turn down a bowl of semolina pasta if it was served to me. :) always great to hear from you! And yes…garlic bread on the side!

  • Patty Nguyen says:

    Ooh, I must go find some quinoa pasta now!

  • Conor Bofin says:

    Very healthy and very tasty looking. The gluten move is interesting too.

  • Karinna says:

    I like your idea for combining the parsley pesto with the tomato sauce – I like it a lot! I often use a bit of red pesto in pasta sauces for a little more oomph but for some strange reason, have never ever thought to try green pesto! Will have to give it a go…

    • It’s a fantastic combination Karinna. I like to eat a little of it before I add the tomato sauce. Or, I have even serve it 1/2 and 1/2. In the bowl, put half with just pesto next to 1/2 with tomato sauce. It looks good and you can mix them yourself…or not! :)

  • trixpin says:

    I’ve never heard of quinoa pasta, although I love quinoa. I’ll have to look out for it as I’ve cut down on gluten too (like you, not for any reason other than to see how it goes).
    The sauce looks delicious. It’s hard to beat spaghetti and meatballs!

  • Hi TWC! Hope you guys are doing well. Has spring sprung in the beautiful Northwest? Yes, long time no hear from me. Long, boring storing. Blah, blah, blah.

    I just noticed the quinoa pasta in the store. Glad to hear it had some texture to it. It certainly will have a different flavor. I’d be curious to know how it reheats, if you had leftovers.

    The classes I’m currently teaching involves visiting various farms all over Colorado. One of our farm partners is adamant about not buying organic, because she says that “with 70% of our water loaded with roundup – including the rain- there is no such thing as organic.” Now, I have to do some research to validate, but I find it all very interesting to think about.

    Now, I will try this, but I’ll probably use spaghetti squash, because I have a thing for that winter fruit.

    All the best!

    ~Chef Janet

    • Interesting Janet. 70% water loaded with roundup?! That’s disturbing. Well, what I have noticed is organic vegetables have a much more intense flavor. Especially lettuces. There’s no escaping toxins in the world! The quinoa spaghetti tasted very much like “regular” pasta. Not sure about the reheat with leftovers (we finished it at dinner). Glad to hear from you! Will you be posting soon?

  • At least you didn’t cut the cracking photos. Looks damn fine my friend 😜

  • Liz says:

    yum! Of all the gluten-free pastas I’ve tried, quinoa is the clear winner. Love that you’ve found so many benefits by going gluten free. I don’t dare, but happy to read about it here :-)

    • We’ve certainly have cut it out but not completely gluten free. I think it would be a challenge to have to be 100% gf, it’s in so many things! And I really do love a good crusty loaf of bread, couldn’t give that up!

  • Feast Wisely says:

    Like you I try my best to eat very little gluten – and I didn’t know about gluten free quinoa pasta – I’ll have to track this down!

  • I have never tried quinoa pasta…It sounds wonderful and comforting with your turkey meatballs :)

  • What a super healthy & delicious dish Seana! Gorgeous!

  • Joanne says:

    This looks FABULOUS and now that I know that there’s a decent pasta substitute out there, I’ll begin searching for it. However, should I find it, being the coward I am, I will NEVER tell the family given their LOUD protests of going gluten-free. Plus the parsley pesto sounds intriguing. Let the searching begin! :)

  • Cecilia says:

    Quinoa pasta, wow! This recipe sounds so delicious! Thank you for sharing!

  • wow, simply healthy n damn delicious!!!

  • Karen says:

    It sounds like a winning combination for a healthy and delicious meal.

  • Pastas always get my attention. When I saw quinoa spaghetti, I was further intrigued. This recipe sure stands out and is very delectable. Maybe I should try gluten free for to get some inches off my middle. :)

    • Hi Fae! Thank you for stopping in and visiting my posts today. You’d be surprised with the results of cutting down on gluten. And equally surprised how delicious quinoa pasta! It’s always nice to hear from you. :)

  • You learn something every day. I never knew there was a quinoa spaghetti! I am going to look out for it. This is so interesting.

    • I was so happy to have stumbled upon it. I am not gluten intolerant but cutting down on the amount of gluten intake has been a very positive move. With this particular quinoa spaghetti I couldn’t even tell the difference. Thank you for stopping in Maria. :)

  • Perfect – I’m doing the same thing – organic and semi-gluten-free! In my case – the gluten-free bit is for migraines. It has helped enormously and I’ve found I’ve been able to add some gluten back into my diet without triggering the headaches again. I love this recipe. I will look for the quinoa pasta although I’m pretty happy with rice pasta and the new Catelli gluten-free pasta too. The meantballs – yum! xx

    • I have heard too much gluten may cause migraines. So glad to hear you found the trigger. For us we just realized how much gluten we were consuming. Far too much and cutting down has been an enlightening experience. Years ago when my son was little I only bought organic foods and even the water we drank was pure. I don’t know why I slipped over the last few years, but now that we’re back on track we all feel so much better and I quite convinced it’s not psychosomatic. :)

  • This looks delicious! I use turkey to make sloppy joes but haven’t made meatballs with it yet. I’ll have to try yours!

  • Wow. It sounds like you’ve made some really good changes. I did that a few years ago. I’m not “anything” free, but I significantly cut out the number of carbs and focused on vegetables. Oddly, being more veggie focused increases prices. Why do we live in a world where vegetables cost more than meat or poultry? It’s a function of the system and it’s scary. I think going organic is an important step. Very exciting to watch how your journey progresses.

  • That’s a very interesting addition, the almond meal, to the turkey meatballs! I’ll have to try it.

    Isn’t it true about the pasta, being the more you make the more you eat; plus it doesn’t help having a container in the fridge calling your name when you’re getting ready for bed…or maybe that’s just me! :)

    I’ve cut back on a lot of carbs, although I’ve been posting some old standards for my son and his g/f recently – luckily they come over for dinner, we cook, and then they take left overs home, too. Which helps me AND them! :) I find as I get older, swelling and inflammation is an issue and seems to be tied directly to a lot of carbs, especially the “fast” ones.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. Inflammation is the very reason we took a look at our gluten consumption. And it worked! We feel so much less “bloated” and swollen since we’ve practically cut it out. And I’m like you too in the way I keep stuffing myself when I make a whole pound of pasta. Can’t stop. :)

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