Diced! – Diana – Quinoa Zucchini Meatballs with Mushroom Tomato Sauce

Today we have an entrant for the second course of the Diced! competition. This round includes ingredients that are vegan friendly. Contestants were encouraged to add any additional ingredients they wished (even non-vegan ones). Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for a main course containing the following ingredients: Large Portobello mushrooms, Quinoa, Zucchini and Balsamic vinegar. They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.

Due to the generosity of the following companies, we have some really awesome products as a prize to the winner of this Diced! competition. The winner will receive:

  • Zak – The winner receives their choice of a four piece setting or set of three serving bowls from their new Moso line. This is made from biodegradable bamboo and comes in a choice of four stylish colors. Look for a review of this product in the near future. Check them out here.
  • Chobani – The leading brand in Greek Yogurt, the winner will receive a case of their choice of flavor of Greek yogurt. I’ve been using quite a bit of Chobani in my cooking lately and love it. Look for those recipes soon. Check out the selection at: http://chobani.com/products
  • Microplane – Microplane will provide the winner with four items: Microplane Elite Series Fine Grater, Home Series Coarse Grater, Bartender’s Garnishing Tool, Cut-Resistant Glove. I recently reviewed these products here. Check out their products at their facebook page: www.facebook.com/microplane
  • Youcopia – Maker of organization products, they would like to offer the winner a choice of a product from their web site. I recently reviewed the Bake Stack.

Today’s contestant, Diana is no stranger to the Rantings of an Amateur Chef as she was one of the early guest bloggers. Diana has penned five guest blogs from a beautiful butternut mac and cheese to Limoncello Cupcakes. Check out Diana’s blog at Food N Thought Peddler and her entry below…

When we speak of quinoa, we usually talk about “power foods”, and it truly is. Quinoa is full of protein, rich in iron, fiber and is bursting with a multitude of other vitamins and minerals.

It also has great anti-inflammatory qualities and is a must food for anybody fighting cancer, systemic immune diseases like lupus, asthma, joint issues and it’s naturally gluten-free, which is already a winner in my book.

Quinoa is a definite super-grain but it could be so much more. It’s mostly used as a side dish or in salads yet it can hold a place of its own among other protein rich options like beans or tofu in vegan or vegetarian dishes. Quinoa provides about 7g of protein per cup of cooked grain, that’s a true Superman coming from an unlikely source, which is a grain.

Speaking of other unlikely superhero, poor Ben Affleck, so much backlash  and critique for being the next Batman! I’m all about being pleasantly surprised though, he may actually do the job quite well, right along the lines as the film director said that as a seasoned actor, he holds the skills to portray a multi-layered character yet he has the charm and charisma to make his Batman a believable superhero.

So let us be surprised, with the Superman dish below too!

When the list of the ingredients for the 2nd round was revealed, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. A variation of this recipe makes a frequent appearance at our dinner table, plus any pasta dish is an ultimate comfort food in my eyes. Stuck at home with a really bad back pain for the past couple of weeks, only a nice comforting dish would get me out of bed and into the kitchen (and of course the joy of being moved to the next round of Diced!) 🙂

So armed with a heating pad strapped to my back and Mariah Carey’s  song “Hero” playing in my head, as I truly felt like one standing upright and cooking (plus to keep up with the Superhero theme), and out came this tasty and satisfying meatless (but you won’t even notice) variation of an old time favorite dish. The recipe could easily be converted to being completely vegan by substituting an egg replacer for an egg, I’m also using plant based, and soy free, daiya cheese to eliminate the dairy, you may regular cheese if you prefer. Also oatmeal is my usual choice for a binder instead of bread crumbs as it provides a much healthier carb option plus an extra punch of fiber and protein, but you may use bread crumbs if you like. Shredded zucchini plus oatmeal are my to-go-to fillers in any dishes like stuffed peppers, meatloaf, chicken patties or soup meatballs, you get a nice soft texture without the carb content of the usual bread crumbs. A friend came over to share  this dish with me, and he actually felt stuffed after a full portion, so no complains were voiced that there was no meat for dinner or that something was missing in the “comforting” factor.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Quinoa Zucchini Meatballs with Mushroom Tomato Sauce


Meatballs (makes 20-26):

2 cups of cooked quinoa

1/2 cup of quick cooking oats, plus boiling water

3 cups of shredded zucchini (2-3 zucchini, depending on size)

1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (I’m using Jack style daiya cheese)

1 egg

2 Tbspoons of balsamic vinegar

3-4 Tbspoons of chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used dill)

1/2 tspoon each of basil, marjoram, coriander and rosemary

Salt, pepper


1 large container of chopped or strained tomatoes (I like Pomi)

2 large Portobello caps, sliced

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped or sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tspoon of Italian seasoning blend

1 Tbspoon of sugar (optional)

Salt, pepper, olive oil

Basil leaves for garnish


In a bowl pour hot water over 1/2 cup of quick cooking oats just to cover it and set it aside  till the oats absorbed all the water. In a large bowl combine quinoa, shredded zucchini, cheese, oatmeal, herbs, spices and vinegar, you may taste it (before you add an egg) to see how much salt and pepper you need, then add an egg.


Oil a baking sheet or a mini muffin pan, I thought this donut holes pan will do just the job required. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of mix (it will be fragile) on a sheet or in a pan.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, then carefully scoop them out and turn over on a baking sheet to brown the other side, bake for another 10-15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and cover with foil to keep them warm.


While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat up some olive oil and sauté chopped onions till lightly golden, then add sliced peppers and mushrooms until everything is half way done.


Add tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes, I like the combination of tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes, but you can add extra sauce if you prefer more liquid. Bring it all to a boil and then add all the spices, salt, pepper and sugar (if you like it on a sweeter side), finish cooking.


Turn the heat off, add the meatballs and cover with sauce (but don’t heat them up as they may break during cooking).

Serve over pasta of your choice, I used gluten free fresh linguini. A side of cheesy ciabatta rolls (Schar’s gluten free ciabatta plus daiya) made a nice addition to this meal. The sauce and meatballs themselves are packed full of different vegetables and bring a certain punch of protein and fiber with the combo of quinoa and oatmeal. The meatballs would also be great in a sub or as an appetizer over lettuce cups.




Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Cheese2, Guest, Italian, kosher, Lunch3, Main Dish 2, Pasta, Recipes, vegetable3, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

4 Comments on “Diced! – Diana – Quinoa Zucchini Meatballs with Mushroom Tomato Sauce”

  1. John Bowman
    September 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Reblogged this on gothnerd and commented:
    Quinoa Zicchini Meatballs!!! Oh that sounds fantastic and healthy!!!


  2. September 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Reblogged this on Food n Thought Peddler and commented:
    My post for the 2nd round of Diced! food blog competition is up and the voting is now open. I was excited to advance to the 2nd round, thank you to all my followers who voted in the 1st round, I need your help once again to be moved to the 3rd round where desserts will be made. This recipe is a healthy version of an old time favorite, it’s vegetarian and can be made vegan (sans 1 egg). Please check out my post and vote here https://rantingchef.com/2013/09/13/diced-voting-now-open/
    Thank you again for all your votes!


  3. September 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    I like the idea of a quinoa meatball! Might be cute to do as an app with the dipping sauce.


    • September 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      yes, it can totally be an app, either w/the same tomato sauce or anything creamy or balsamic/soy based.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: