How I came up with this Sweet and Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs recipe is kind of instant. I bought some ground chicken about a month ago because it seemed like it was a reasonable price, and it’s been in my freezer ever since. But, unfortunately, whenever Jack asks me what I’m thinking about for dinner, and I mention using the ground chicken, he kind of turns his nose up, and I make something else. Tonight, however, I didn’t give him an option!
I took a package of the ground chicken out of my freezer this morning and let it thaw while we were working outside in our yard. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, Jack asked me the dreaded question, “What are you thinking about for dinner?” There was no way around the fact that we would have some of that ground chicken tonight. What was I going to make with it, though?
Spicy, Sweet and Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs
I decided on some spicy meatballs, and Jack thought it sounded like it might be kind of good. Whew! I dodged that one! I didn’t tell him that I was going to add some quinoa (it’s good for you and makes an excellent binder for the meatballs) to the ground chicken to stretch it a little and make it easier to work with. After all, have you ever used ground chicken? It doesn’t have the same texture as other ground meats, and when it comes right down to it, it’s a bit slimy and icky feeling by itself.
Just when I thought I didn’t have to think anymore about dinner for a while, Jack asked if I would make some sauce with the meatballs and, if so, what kind of sauce I was going to have. Oh heck! I hadn’t thought that far ahead! Really? What kind of sauce? A little fast thinking led to me come up with an idea to have sweet and sour sauce, which is easy to make. Then, amazingly, the whole meal came together!
I thought since we have spicy chicken meatballs with sweet and sour sauce, I might as well go ahead and use some pineapple, green peppers, and onion and serve the whole thing over rice. Voilà! My meal was planned – Sweet and Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs!
Sweet and Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs
- ½ cup quinoa - raw
- 1 ¼ pounds ground chicken (minced chicken)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper - crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup flour - for rolling meatballs in
- 1 medium white onion
- ⅔ cup cooking oil
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Cook quinoa ahead of time and have it cooled and ready to go. Use 1/2 cup of raw quinoa and add 1 cup of water. Cook as you would rice.
- Open pineapple chunks and drain them over a bowl so you can use the juice later.
- Begin with ground chicken. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top of the chicken and mix it in. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken.
- Add cooked quinoa to the chicken and mix it all until well blended. Roll into meatballs and coat with flour.
- Place into a heated pan that has a little oil in it. Turn meatballs several times while they’re cooking, so they’re evenly browned.
- While meatballs are cooking, cut green peppers and onion into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a large pan, pour a little oil into it, and cook/stir fry the green peppers and onion until they are done to your liking. I like them crisp-tender, not mushy, so only for a few minutes.
- Add the pineapple chunks and stir. By now, your meatballs should be done, so push them into 1/2 of their pan and dump the green pepper/onion/pineapple mixture into the other half. Cover and keep on low heat.
- Using the pan you stir-fried in, heat cooking oil until it’s very hot. While it’s heating, mix the pineapple juice (if you don’t have quite 1 3/4 cup, you can add a little water to it), ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch. Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Add this to the very hot oil, stirring quickly. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and is well-blended. This will only take a few minutes.
- When the sauce is done, spoon the vegetable/pineapple mixture back in and stir. You can add the meatballs to the sauce if you choose or serve them on the side. I served it over rice, with the rice on the bottom, the sauce and vegetables/pineapple next, topped with meatballs. Enjoy!