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Chicken & Kale Meatballs with Mixed Beans and Quinoa

/ Categories Alumni, Nutrition and Healthy Eating, #LeithsTakeovers / Author:

Chicken & Kale Meatballs with Mixed Beans and Quinoa

The perfect warming winter recipe created by Emily Wright, an alumna of our Nutrition in Culinary Practice course. Emily has gone on to launch her own bespoke nutritional meal planning service; The Wright Foodie.

This wholesome and nourishing family favourite is an absolute winner on all fronts! It is warming and comforting as the colder nights draw in, and I do just love a meal that the whole family can all enjoy together with no cajoling involved whatsoever….which is somewhat of a rarity for my lot at the moment! The meatballs themselves are so packed with flavour and rather helpfully, the mixture doubles up as delicious chicken burgers too so are a great batch cooking option. Obviously making a tomato sauce from scratch is entirely optional if you are short on time, but this sauce recipe is very easy, all done and dusted in 10 minutes, and is so very yummy! The meatballs sit on a bed of quinoa and mixed beans, which are as simple as opening the packets and chucking them all in!

This family classic is nutrient dense comfort food at it's very best. I don’t know about you, but I find it slightly tricky to get my kids to eat beans and they are such an important part of a healthy and varied diet. They are full of plant-based protein and are packed with fibre, so fortunately they get absolutely devoured in this recipe. Another thing I love about this meal is that although it does contain chicken, the meat is not the star of the show. The meal still manages to pack in 4 different veggies, wholegrains in the form of quinoa and also legumes in the form of red kidney and canellilni beans. So it really is the most perfectly well-rounded meal.

One serving provides 521 calories, 33g of good quality protein and almost half of my daily fibre. It also provides 35% and 26% of my daily Vitamin A and C requirements respectively.

This meal is very freezer friendly, both their individual parts and also as a whole – you can either freeze the meatball mixture and tomato sauce separately and prep it all together with the beans and grains once you’ve defrosted it. Or else you can assemble it all, par cook it for 20 minutes and freeze an entire-meal together, ready to pop out when you’re in a ‘I’m-too-tired-to-cook’ bind.


Serves 6

For the meatballs
500g organic chicken mince
2 eggs
45g kale – chopped
2 red onions
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (I used Tracklements punchy balsamic mustard)
35g breadcrumbs (I used Clearspring brown rice breadcrumbs)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried herbs of your choice (I used a combination of 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage)
Salt & fresh black pepper

For the tomato sauce
400g chopped tomatoes (2 tins)
300ml passata
2 tbsp omato purée
1 red onion
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried herbs of your choice (I used a combination of 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage)
Salt & fresh black pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp coconut sugar/xylitol
150g sundried tomatoes
Optional – chipotle chilli flakes if you like a spicy kick and it’s not for the kids

For the rest
2 x packets of 250g pre-cooked quinoa
2 tins of pre-cooked beans of your choice (I used 1 tin of red kidney beans and 1 tin of cannelini beans)
Fresh basil leaves
Optional – grated parmesan at the end


  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. 
  3. Finely dice the onion and leek.
  4. Remove the woody stalks to the kale and chop the leaves finely.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the onions and leeks until starting to brown slightly.
  6. Add the kale and the dried herbs and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  7. Set aside to cool slightly.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the rest of the meatball ingredients and when the onions, leeks and kale have cooled a little, add those too. Combine well and set aside while you prepare the rest.
  9. If you are using shop bought tomato sauce, just skip to the end of the recipe!
  11. Finely dice the onions, leeks and mince the garlic.
  12. Chop the sundried tomatoes.
  13. Using the same frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions and leeks and sweat until slightly browning.
  14. Add the minced garlic, stir for 2 minutes and then add the tinned tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and basil.
  15. Stir until fully combined and then add the vinegar and sugar and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  16. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes, dried herbs and smoked paprika.
  17. Season with a little salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

  19. Drain and rinse the beans from the tin.
  20. In a large casserole dish, sprinkle the pre-cooked quinoa at the bottom, and add the beans.
  21. Make little ball shapes with the chicken mixture with your hands and place evenly amongst the beans and quinoa.
  22. Pour over the tomato sauce, cover with a lid and cook for 35-40 minutes.
  23. NOTE: If you aren’t eating it all and want to freeze some, then separate into smaller roasting dishes and par cook for 20 minutes.
  24. Allow it to cool completely before covering and putting in the freezer. Defrost fully and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.


Calories – 521
Protein – 33g
Fat – 16g
Carbohydrates – 61g
Fibre – 12g (46%)
Vitamin A – 35%
Vitamin C – 26%
Iron – 16%
Calcium – 7%

If you'd like to combine nutritional theory with practical cooking skills, explore our Nutrition in Culinary Practice course here.

Author: Emily Wright

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