I admit, this meal sounds a little weird. But if you’re obsessed with buffalo sauce as I am, but don’t want to waste 1,000 calories on a buffalo chicken sandwich, this flavorful, healthy dish will satisfy even the most devout wing kings.
Start with finely chopping equal parts celery, carrot, and onion. How much you want depends on you! I used about 2 stalks of celery, 2 medium carrots, and a medium sized onion.
Side note: Mirepoix is the standard base for hundreds of dishes and it’s usually 2 parts onions, 1 part celery, and 1 part carrot. I bumped up the celery content because celery+wings=goodness.
Now, take HALF of what you’ve chopped and throw it in a heated, nonstick skillet on medium/medium high heat with a pinch of salt.
Take the other half and throw it in a mixing bowl. Add a pound of ground turkey (or whatever ground meat you prefer). Add a handful (1/4 c. or so) of your favorite breadcrumbs, 1 egg, a clove of minced garlic, and lots of salt and pepper.
Form meatballs (I prefer small ones), place them on a cookie sheet, and put them in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they become slightly brown on the outside. You can also use a meat thermometer and pull them out at 160-165.
Side note: This can easily be a vegetarian/vegan meal but subbing your meatballs out for roasted veggies! Or, just add some extra veggies to this roasting pan by chopping the vegetables up and tossing with oil, salt, and pepper.
In the meantime, your vegetables should have started browning in the pan. Once they’re nice and golden brown, pour in 2 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock. This will deglaze the pan and release all of the yummy bits from the bottom of the skillet.
If you don’t have this, water will be fine but you may need to add extra seasoning of your choice. If you usually don’t have stock on hand or have limited space like I do, I recommend keeping this condensed chicken stock on hand. Just add it to your water and it’s good to go. Much easier to work with than those pesky bouillon cubes.
Carefully pour the liquid and veggies into a sauce pan. If you don’t want to dirty up two pans, you can add the quinoa into the skillet IF you have a lid.
Add 1 c. quinoa to the sauce pan. Give it a stir, turn the heat to low, put the lid on, and walk away. This will take at least 20 minutes.
While your meatballs and quinoa are cooking, feel free to make a quick sauce to put on top. I hate blue cheese, so I simply mixed feta, sour cream, a little salt, and a touch of water/cream (so it’s thin enough to drizzle). If you’re counting calories, you can leave this out.
I want to talk about quinoa for a second. My first experience with quinoa was about 10 years ago cooking for a retreat center when a group of hula-hooping vegans (seriously) asked if we could serve quinoa for every lunch and dinner. I told them I’d never heard of it. They made a giant pot and it was amazingly fluffy and mild. So I think I learned the potential of quinoa from professionals who live off of it.
Many people don’t like quinoa because of the texture. If you’re one of those people, I think I can safely say it’s because it’s not being cooked well for you. To me, the secret of great quinoa is cooking it long enough to see the little white “arms” that encircle the seed detach from the seed itself. That will usually happen when 1) there’s no standing water in the pot (see below) and 2) when you can take a fork and fluff it. Once you think it’s done, take a quick taste. Does it crunch? Not done yet! Is it deliciously soft and fluffy? It’s done!
While your quinoa finishes up, take the meatballs out of the oven.
Toss them with your favorite buffalo sauce. Feel free to add sour cream to the buffalo sauce if you want it to be milder.
I didn’t make my own buffalo sauce because, frankly, I didn’t have time and I like the kind I had. If you want to made it from scratch, here’s a good recipe.
Once your quinoa is done, just plate the rest up! I topped the quinoa and buffalo meatballs with my feta sauce and some green onions.
After plating my meal for the night, I immediately packaged these up into 3 more containers. I placed one in the freezer and kept the other two for lunches for the week. It was REALLY good leftover too!
- 2 Stalks celery – .13¢
- 2 Medium carrots – .22¢
- 1 Medium onion – .61¢
- 1 Cup quinoa – $1.30
- 1 Pound turkey – $4.99
- 4 Servings – $7.25
- 1 Serving – $1.81