Instead of breadcrumbs, these meatballs call in cooked quinoa. It brings a fluffier, bouncier texture, nutty flavor, and nubby crust. We loved serving these with spaghetti and tomato sauce, but they’d be just as great atop a grain bowl or big salad. —Emma Laperruque
Combine the quinoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 or so minutes until the water has absorbed and the quinoa is tender. When it’s done, dump onto a plate and spread out to cool completely. (You can stick it in the fridge or freezer if you’re in a rush.)
When the quinoa is no longer warm, combine that and the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. You can use your hands or a spoon to combine. Just make sure you don’t overwork the mixture, lest you’ll end up with tough meatballs.
Heat the oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat.
Form the pork mixture into 2-tablespoon sized balls. Line up on the sheet pan. If they seem crowded (which will cause steaming versus browning), divide between two lined sheet pans.
Bake for about 15 minutes until browned and cooked through.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.