Cooking with Kids – Quinoa Neatballs

Written by Frances

There’s nothing better than jamming to a great playlist while you cook up a storm in the kitchen! When I do this, the outcome is usually a creative, tasty and beautiful plant-based meal which I’m eager to share and enjoy with others.

But what happens when there are children in the mix? Well, you get them involved!

Learning how to cook with those dearest to us will always be one of our happiest memories. Although the end result may look a little suspicious, it will most likely taste amazing!

However this is not the case for everyone. Cooking with children can be stressful. It’s not always safe and sometimes they can just be downright fussy – I know I was – which makes cooking creatively difficult at the best of times. Trying to figure out where children can get involved, without destroying the kitchen or getting hurt along the way, can be tough.

In the recipe below, all the neatball ingredients are cooked before you shape them, making them safe for children to snack on, while you roll them. Involving children in this process will not only make them excited to eat their dinner but also leave them with a sense of pride.

If you would like to encourage your family or friends to eat more plant-based meals, then making a meal that is completely new can relax any preconceived ideas of what the food should taste like. I always serve these quinoa neatballs with Happy Earth People chickpea pasta which ensures nourishing and clean ingredients that are high in protein and fibre. Just another reason I love suggesting this recipe for everyone to try.

Quinoa & Aubergine Neatballs with Napoletana Sauce

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Difficulty: A little effort


  • 250g Happy Earth People Pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large aubergine (300g), chopped into small blocks
  • 50g green olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 100g quinoa, cooked
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs

Napoletana sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 x 400g whole peel tomatoes
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme


  1. For the neatballs:heat the olive in a large non-stick skillet, add the onion, garlic and aubergine. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from the heat and transfer into a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds so that the mixture is combined but not completely smooth. Then transfer into large bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once well combined, roll the mixture into 30g balls then place into the fridge to chill and firm up for at least 20 minutes before frying.
  4. For the napoletana sauce: Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or pot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and opaque.
  5. Add the tomato paste, cook out for 2 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half. While the sauce reduces, cook the Happy Earth People chickpea pasta.
  6. Fry off the quinoa neatballs in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat for 10 minutes, turning until lightly browned on all sides.
  7. Taste and season the napoletana sauce with salt and pepper, add the neatballs and a handful of chopped herbs before serving with Happy Earth People Pasta.


1. I usually suggest adding in some fresh herbs at the very end of this dish but if you want to try something new, toss the cooked pasta in 2 tablespoons of pesto just before serving.
2. If you are going to go to the effort of making neatballs, try doubling the recipe and freezing half just to make life a little easier for one of those crazy days. These neatballs work so well with a variety of dishes!

Frances is a professionally trained chef, recipe developer and blogger, who believes that life and food should be healthy as well as delicious. Her lifelong passion for sustainable alternative eating, took her to culinary school to hone her craft. She curates plant based recipes that are designed to be enjoyed by all and that are gluten-free; dairy-free and refined sugar-free.

Frances believes that living well begins with eating well! There are no set rules as everyone is different. So, it is a matter of becoming mindful and listening to your body which will allow you to incorporate her recipes and become the best you.

She also feels that keeping it simple means that fueling and nourishing the body can be enjoyed by anyone – and hey, it is by no means boring or scary! Join Frances on a journey to discover how mouth-watering and rewarding a plant based lifestyle can be. Even conscious carnivores will be surprised by how easy and tasty the recipes are – let alone how great they will make you feel.

You can follow her on Instagram and check out her Website to find more deliciously conscious recipes like these!