The other day I had a flash back to my college days. Specifically, the food I ate during my college days. I couldn’t get my mind off of one of my favorite college foods: pizza dipped in ranch dressing.
When a pregnant woman gets her mind focused on a certain food, watch out. Suddenly, I needed some pizza with ranch dressing. Or at least something with those flavors. These quinoa pizza balls with yogurt ranch dip are the perfect healthier stand-in for my old college favorite.
The pizza balls are bursting with pizza flavor and the modified ranch dip is just as good as the chemical-y, over-processed bottled stuff. And the best part? You can eat this as a snack, meal, or appetizer and not feel like you gained 10 pounds in one sitting afterwards.
These are the balls just before putting them into the oven. I have to admit, I couldn’t stop taking little bites of the mixture before baking them. It is so flavorful! Once they are baked, it’s even better. I’m already thinking about making another batch.
Quinoa Pizza Balls with Yogurt Ranch Dip
Pizza Balls adapted from Newlywed, Newly Veg!
Makes 20 balls and 3/4 cup dip
for the quinoa pizza balls
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1 cup cooked red kidney beans
5-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 (scant) cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
1/2 teaspoon salt (reduce or omit if your beans are cooked in salt)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover, and cook for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
When the quinoa is finished cooking, transfer it (you should have 1 cup cooked quinoa) to a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
Using a fork or potato masher, mash the ingredients together. It’s okay to have a few whole beans in there, but you want a mixture that will stick together well.
Roll the mixture into 1-2 inch balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, turning the balls over with a spatula half way through the cooking time. The balls will be lightly browned when they are finished. Serve warm or at room temperature.
for the yogurt dipping sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 real mayo or vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise because that’s what I keep on hand)
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Want some nutritional stats? Each quinoa pizza ball is just 25 calories, yet boasts 1 gram of fiber, 1 1/2 grams of protein, .5 mg of iron, and 7 mg of calcium. Each tablespoon of the dip has about 36 calories and 3 grams of fat.
More important than the stats, though, is the flavor, and these little bites really pack the flavor. And there’s so much you can do with them.
I think they taste good at room temperature and are totally kid-friendly, so these would be great for school lunches. I crumbled a few over my salad for lunch today and loved the added nutrition and flavor. They are a wonderful part of a toddler lunch. Eat a few for a quick, nutritious snack. Put them in hoagie bun, add some marinara sauce, and turn it into a vegetarian “meat”ball sub. Go ahead, get carried away.