Reminiscent of little porcupines, these meatballs are studded with quinoa or rice and cooked in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. This new twist on a retro classic is not only kid-approved, but it’s also quick to get on the table!
Those of you who visit Five Heart Home with any regularity have probably figured out by now that quick and easy is the name of the game around here. A typical evening necessitates that dinner be ready in 30 minutes or less, and whatever I’m cooking must be appealing to a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 1-year old. Well, I’m happy to share another recipe today that fits all of the above criteria!
Have y’all had Porcupine Meatballs before? Basically, raw rice is added to ground beef, formed into meatballs, and and then cooked in a tomato-based sauce. The resulting meatballs have pointy little pieces of rice sticking out in all directions, hence the “porcupine” moniker.
This dish has been around for decades. It was popular when I was growing up in the 80s, and I recently came across a recipe for it in an old family cookbook I inherited that dates back to the 60s. However, a bit of online research taught me that Porcupine Meatballs originated all the way back in the Great Depression, when they were invented as a way to stretch a little bit of meat into a larger meal by using more widely available rice.
Porcupine Meatballs make for a quick, tasty meal even today, and they are quite popular at our house. I’ve been making them for years with white rice (I learned the hard way that brown rice — with its longer required cooking time — will result in crunchy meatballs, which I can promise you are not so good). But it recently occurred to me that this recipe might also work using super healthy quinoa in lieu of rice. So, utilizing my family as guinea pigs, I embarked on creating a 2014 version of porcupines. And guess what? It worked!
I will confess that it’s probably not entirely accurate to call these “porcupine” meatballs when using quinoa, since quinoa is round and doesn’t give the same spiky effect that rice does. However, using quinoa as your chosen grain to bulk up these meatballs does give them added texture, plus all of the wholesome benefits of quinoa. You can certainly still stick with the traditional white rice to make this recipe, but I am pleased to inform you that should you care to try it, quinoa will work just as well!
So the next time you need a fast-fix supper that the whole family will enjoy, I encourage you to put these porcupine meatballs on your menu! Combine the ingenuity of Depression-era cooks with the health benefits of today’s hottest super food, and you’ve got a winning recipe.
Adapted from AllRecipes.com.
♥More ground beef dinners…