You’re probably thinking: Whoaaa, wait, quinoa in the middle of the Christmas baking frenzy? Are you crazy? Where’s the sugar, SoupAddict? Where’s the sugar!!
Here’s the thing: I’m getting a little overwhelmed by all the sweet-treat recipes zooming around the Interwebs. Yes, I’m doing my fair share of baking, and I even participated in the 1st Annual Food Blogger’s Cookie Swap (hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen — more on that Monday, the 12th, with a recipe for my favorite. cookie. ever), but there are moments throughout the day when I feel like I’m getting sugar highs simply from browsing those lovely and highly addictive food photo gallery sites (Food Gawker  and Tastespotting ).
I’m not done with Christmas sugar carbs yet, but I do need the occasional break. And protein-power-packed quinoa is my BFF in this momentary escape.
Spicy Quinoa Patties
Quinoa is a grain that is not only healthy, but absolutely delish (technically, it’s a seed, but you can use it like a grain, from cooking to grinding into a flour). A little aged cheese, a bit of herbs. Some onions and garlic and eggs to bind it all together. Pimp it up with a generous dose of crushed red pepper. Form little patties (à la distant cousin, arancini) and toss it in the pan.
See the extra dark bits in the photo above? Those are chopped onions on the surface of the spicy quinoa patties that caramelized against the hot pan. Caramelized onions, people. Take a moment to absorb the wonder of it: healthy quinoa, fresh herbs, aged cheese … and caramelized onions.
I serve these spicy quinoa patties with poached eggs for dinner, and make extra for the next day’s morning snack.
Now you can bring on the sugar, Interwebs.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature (leftover quinoa is perfect)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- a few grinds of fresh black pepper
- 3/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed (I sometimes use a ground millet/wheat bread mix)
- Water, as needed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Yield: Yield: about a dozen patties
- Combine the quinoa, beaten eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Add the bread crumbs, stir well, and the let the mixture rest for a few minutes. To test that the mixture has the proper texture to form patties, pick up a palm full, squeeze and release. If the mixture holds together in a clump, then it’s ready. If it’s dry and crumbly, add water a 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the mixture passes the test. If the mixture feels wet and mushy, add more bread crumbs.
- Form the mixture into thick patties (about 3/4?), 2? round. (My shaping method: Place some mixture in one palm, then use your other palm and your thumbs to smoosh and shape the patty very tightly.)
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until shimming, swirling to throughly coat the bottom of the pan. Working in batches, gently place patties in the pan, leaving space between for easy flipping (depending on the size of your skillet, 4 to 6 will fit). Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the other sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove patties from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.
- Serving suggestions: Perfect for a light meal with a side salad, or roasted brussels sprouts, or a bowl of soup. I adore them for breakfast. Made slightly smaller, these would be awesome party appetizers with raita or tzatziki for dipping.
- Make ahead: the quinoa mixture keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days.
- How to cook quinoa: Combine 1 cup of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and you can see the rings around the quinoa grains.
Source: adapted from Heidi Swanson’s  cookbook, Super Natural Every Day