Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Quinoa Veggie Balls

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There are different varieties of eggplant. I have the standard eggplant that everyone’s familiar with, and also 2 smaller tiger eggplants. For this recipe today, I going to use just the one larger eggplant.


Yields: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes (time may vary slightly)

2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash peeled
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup of water
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Yields: 22-24 quinoa balls
Equipment: food processor, mesh strainer, saucepan with lid, 2 baking sheets
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time:  roughly, 1 hour
Roasted Eggplant 30 minutes Quinoa 20 minutes ( cook at the same time)
Quinoa veggies balls 20-25 minutes

3 cups of cooked quinoa
1/2 diced red, yellow and orange bell peppers, 1/2 a large onion, and 3 cloves of garlic that have been minced in a food processor, then drained.
1-1/4 cups of roasted and processed egg plant
1-1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
1 jar of sweet organic potato and apricot puree
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of ground chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
2 large beaten eggs
1-1/4 cups of Italian style bread crumbs, plus 1/2 cup for reserved for coating the quinoa balls.
Olive oil for drizzling over the quinoa balls

First, let’s talk about preparing the zucchini and yellow squash. Cut lengthwise slices from the zucchini and squash using a julienne peeler.I like leaving the skins on but that’s optional. Stop when seeds are reached. Turn the the zucchini over and repeat on the other side. Do the same with the yellow squash. Note:  Because it the veggie pasta doesn’t take very long to cook, wait until the quinoa veggies balls come out of the oven before starting the pasta.

To cook the zucchini pasta, heat the olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat, saute and stir the vegetable pasta strands in the oil for 1 minute. Add water and cook until the vegetable pasta is softened, (time may vary slightly) 3-5 minutes. Season with Kosher salt and pepper.

To roast the eggplant, preheat oven to 400 degrees F., cut it lengthwise, place them onto a baking sheet lightly greased with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle the tops with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Roast them in the oven until softened and golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before removing the flesh.

While the eggplant is roasting in the oven, prepare the quinoa.  In a fine mesh strainer, add the 1 cup of quinoa. Rinse thoroughly with cool water for about 2 minutes. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hands while rinsing. Drain. Note: 1 cup of dried quinoa equals 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the saucepan over med-high heat, and add in the drained quinoa. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute to let the water evaporate and toast the quinoa. Stir in 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Bring to a roaring boil. Lower the heat setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove  the pot from the heat and let stand for another 5 minutes, covered. Don’t peek! At this point all the water should be absorbed. Note: If not, return the pan to the heat, covered for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Finally transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Grate, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the quinoa.

In a food processor add  large diced red, yellow, and orange bells peppers, diced onion, along with garlic that’s been chopped into large pieces. Pulse until finely minced. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer to release any extra water coming from the veggies. Let veggies stay in strainer until all or most liquid has drained off, about 10 minutes. Then add the strained veggies to the bowl with the quinoa.

To the food processor add the fresh herbs and pulse a few times until the herbs are finely minced. Then add the minced herbs to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Next,  remove the flesh of the eggplant from its skin. Add the flesh to the food processor and pulse until blended. To the bowl with the eggplant!

Now the hard part is done, just a few more ingredients then in the frig with this mixture. First, for the spices, add in cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Add in 1 jar of organic sweet potato and apricot baby puree, Italian style bread crumbs, ketchup, and beaten eggs. Mix  all these ingredients together really well, cover with plastic wrap and place into the frig.

Let the quinoa mixture set up in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Next, is to get two baking sheets lined with parchment paper ready. Pull the quinoa mixture out of the frig, using a 2 ounce scoop (the size of walnuts), scoop out the mixture into your hands roll them into a balls. A couple at a time, drop them into a shallow bowl with Italian style bread crumbs. Roll them around in the bread crumbs, until coated, shake off the excess, and place them onto the baking sheet.

Drizzle the tops of the quinoa balls with olive oil to help them brown evenly. Bake them off at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown. While the quinoa balls are baking, cook off the zucchini pasta as explained above. If you have homemade Marinara sauce on hand that’s perfect, if not use your favorite jarred brand.

Cooked quinoa balls can be stored in refrigerator for 3-5 days in air tight zip lock bag.

To plate, place the zucchini pasta on the bottom of the plate, and set your quinoa balls around the veggie pasta. Ladle some sauce over the top. While everything is piping hot, grate some cheese over the top.


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Zucchini And Cremini Mushroom Gratin. Gluten Free

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Zucchini And Cremini Mushroom Gratins are the easiest yet the most elegant looking appetizers to serve to your guests. Everyone gets their own individual dish. That always seems to make friends and family feel extra special. Whenever I make a tomato sauce, I always seem to have plenty left over. There’s just two of us so I’m always trying to think up different ways to use any leftover sauce. That’s how this dish came to be. This recipe can be made easy enough if you don’t have leftover sauce. All you would have to do is to buy your favorite jarred marinara sauce.

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In a large sautè pan on medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Slice 1/2 a pint of Cremini mushrooms and throw them right into the pan set on med-high heat. I like to add 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves, but dried thyme is fine. Use 1 teaspoon of the dried. I also add black pepper and Kosher salt to taste.  I don’t salt the mushrooms until they reached the brown stage. The salt will cause them to release their water and they won’t brown properly. Once you see they are nice and caramelized, just sprinkle salt to taste. The sauteing of the mushrooms will only take about 10 minutes. Once the mushrooms have been sauteed, remove them from the pan and place them into a bowl until we need them again.

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I have 2 zucchinis and 1 yellow squash that I’ve sliced about 1/2 an inch thick. I have them in a bowl where I’ve added Kosher salt and pepper. Using the same pan, on med heat, I add in 1/4 cup of olive oil that I let get really hot. I carefully place the sliced zucchini and squash in not to overcrowd. This needs to be done in two separate batches. They will shallow fry for about 2 minutes per side. I do this just long enough for the veggies to soften and get some nice color on them before they go into the gratin dishes. I have a large plate lined with a paper towel so once the veggies are done sautèing, they go right onto the plate to remove any extra oil that may be on them.

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I already have my leftover tomato sauce set in a bowl and ready. In a separate bowl, I make the cheese filling for the gratin. I have some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I’ve ground up in my mini food processor. I add half of the cheese I ground up, into the bowl with some Ricotta, egg, some freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley,  and a sprinkling of Kosher salt, black pepper. Finally some half and half. I use the half and half just to thin the mixture out a bit. So now the cheesy gratin part is done. It’s time to assemble.

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I figured with the number of mushrooms and zucchini slices, I had enough veggies to make 3 individual gratins. You don’t want to overfill the dishes. I started with the zucchini and squash slices first. One even layer at the bottom of the dishes. Next, a thin layer of homemade marinara sauce. I like using homemade marinara because it already has the onions, garlic, and basil. On top of that, the sliced cremini mushrooms. I sprinkle just a little of the grated cheese, that I reserved, on top of the mushroom. Then I spoon on the cheese mixture. Lastly, the rest of the reserved Parmigiano-Reggiano, I sprinkle evenly on top of each one.

I place the 3 gratins on two baking sheets to prevent any spillover. Preheat oven to 400- degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes. When finished, garnish with some chopped flat leaf Italian parsley.

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Yields: 3 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes, (the slicing and sautèing of the vegetables)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Equipment: 3 gratin dishes, 1 rimmed sheet pan

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautèing mushrooms
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
3/4 cup homemade marinara sauce ( bottled is fine)
2 tablespoons of thyme leaves (or1 tablespoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (for seasoning zucchini and squash)
1 teaspoon black pepper (for seasoning zucchini and squash
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup half and half
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup of freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley ( reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, carefully add the unsalted butter and olive oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and fresh thyme leaves. Sautè the mushrooms, about 5-7 minutes, or until they’ve browned nicely. One the mushrooms have browned season with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste and stir. Note: Wait to salt the mushrooms until they’ve browned completely. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

I have 2 zucchinis and 1 yellow squash that I’ve sliced about 1/2 an inch thick. I have them in a bowl where I’ve added Kosher salt and pepper. Using the same sautèpan, on medium heat, add a 1/4 cup of olive oil. Let the oil get really hot. Carefully place the sliced zucchini and squash in not to overcrowd. This needs to be done in two separate batches. They will shallow fry for about 2 minutes per side. Do this just long enough for the veggies to soften and get some nice color on them before they go into the gratin dishes. I have a large plate lined with a paper towel so once the veggies are done sautèing, they go right onto the plate to remove any extra oil that may be on them.

While that’s working, go ahead and process the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a food processor.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl add the ricotta, egg, half and half, 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a pinch each of Kosher salt and black pepper, mix to combine.  If you are using leftover marinara or are using bottled have it ready.

In each of 3 gratin dishes, place a layer of the zucchini and squash. Next, and a thin layer of the marinara sauce. To that the sautèed mushrooms. I sprinkle a little of the reserved grated cheese on top of the mushrooms. Then, spoon on a third of the ricotta cheese mixture.

Finally, top each gratin with a tablespoon of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Place the dishes on a rimmed sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes. When the Zucchini And Cremini Mushroom Gratins come out of the oven, garnish with the parsley.

Serve hot.

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