Thursday, April 25, 2013

Savory Quinoa Patties



It's hard to cook just a little quinoa. Those deceptively tiny grains fluff up so enthusiastically I know they want to take over the kitchen. Turn your back and poof! there's even more quinoa in the pot, or at least it seems that way. Instead quinoa just takes over refrigerator space as you store the overage from a typical batch. Accept this as a gift, a challenge to get creative.

Earlier this week we enjoyed a Quinoa Mediterranean Salad for several meals, but a generous bowlful still remained, chilling out in the fridge. I could have served it as a salad one more time, but we were ready for something different. Inspiration came from a SevenSpoons' post that reviewed a quinoa patty recipe from Heidi Swanson's award-winning book Super Natural Every Day. That led me to these crunchy little cakes of deliciousness.


Just my luck, we ate every single patty this time so there were no leftovers. Too bad, because I think quinoa patties might pair well with a frisee salad and I still want to top a fat quinoa cake with a soft poached egg and parsley sauce. I must be thinking of the SevenSpoons' photo that first brought me to this recipe.


While I used leftover Mediterranean salad as the base for these patties,  plain quinoa could serve as well. Add some of your favorite savory ingredients and you're half-way there. These little cuties come together quickly after you mix cooked quinoa with crumbled cheese, capers, green onions, herbs and seasonings, breadcrumbs and eggs. Use a small cookie scoop to portion the mixture into small balls and use your fingers to compact the mixture a bit to avoid crumbling as they cook.




Heat a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, place the quinoa balls in the pan and gently flatten to form small patties, about 1/2" thick. Now leave them alone for several minutes - really, don't move them, don't poke them, just ignore them - so the base will set and hold them together nicely. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the bottom is nicely browned.

Photo: space the patties so you can turn each one without disturbing its neighbors
Use an offset spatula to gently turn them over cook until the second side is nicely browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.


Photo: note the crispy, golden-brown crust
Keep the first batch warm while you cook the remaining patties, or use two skillets or a large griddle and cook them all at once. You'll want to serve them hot, with a sauce on the side. To sauce or not to sauce is a major decision. RL covered his last few patties with Thai Peanut Sauce.


Photo: RL likes a little sauce on his quinoa patties
I couldn't choose a favorite between Sweet Thai Red Pepper Sauce and Mint Tzatziki, so I tried both. Both sauces were delicious and highlighted different ingredients in the patty mixture, but I preferred my quinoa cakes plain, without any sauce to mask the already tasty flavors.  

The surprise of the day was RL's change of opinion from "Do I really have to eat these?" to an enthusiastic "Let's have them again soon". That's fine with the cook although I am officially through posting quinoa recipes for a long while. Unofficially though, quinoa might appear on my plate again soon. It has joined kale as a current must-have ingredient.


Quinoa Patties
Makes 12 small patties

2 cups cooked quinoa (I used leftover Quinoa Mediterranean Salad)
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed & drained
4 green onions, sliced in thin rings
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
a generous handful of fresh feta or mozzarella crumbles
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley or mint or both, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste (option)

Olive oil, canola oil or clarified butter to cook the patties
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the oil and mix thoroughly. Chill and let rest a while to allow the breadcrumbs to soak and soften. 
  2. Portion the mixture into twelve small balls.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan, place the quinoa balls in the pan and gently flatten with a spatula to form patties, roughly 1/2" thick. Now leave them alone for several minutes - don't move them, don't poke them, just ignore them - so the base will set and hold them together nicely. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the bottom is nicely browned.
  4. Use an offset spatula to carefully turn them over cook until the second side is well browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Keep warm while you cook the remaining patties, or use two skillets or a large grill and cook them all at once. You'll want to serve them hot, with a sauce on the side, or perhaps with an egg on top.

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