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Linguine and Quinoa Meatballs With Tangy Tomato Sauce

Reprinted with permission from The 10 Things You Need to Eat by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O'Connor (2010 William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers).

Linguine and Quinoa Meatballs With Tangy Tomato Sauce

"Traditional meatballs depend on bread to give them a light body, but I thought some cooked quinoa could also fit the bill and add an extra protein punch while we're at it," says Lieberman. "Turns out, the quinoa works like a charm and the texture, while different from an Italian grandmother's, is quite wonderful in its own right." Serves 6

For the Sauce :

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with juices

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For the Meatballs :

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

1½ cups cooked quinoa

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, very finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound linguine

1 large handful fresh basil leaves

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and red pepper flakes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and vinegar and simmer for 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to keep warm.

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 425˚F. Heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, partially covered, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, quinoa, Parmesan, egg, parsley, salt, pepper and cooled onions. Stir until a smooth, homogenous mixture has formed. Roll the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and set them on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet in neat rows. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned but still soft to the touch.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the linguine al dente. Serve the pasta with some meatballs and the sauce and top with a sprinkling of torn basil leaves.

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