When we first started experimenting with a more vegetable-based diet a few years ago, my husband was committed but skeptical. He braced himself for a long, hungry month.
I reassured him that he was in good hands. I only forgot one small detail: I actually had no clue what I was doing.
Up to this point, all of my meal planning started with a simple decision: beef, pork, or chicken? Then I would build side dishes around the meat. Take the meat out, and it was hard for me to get motivated in the dinner department. Pancakes for a month, anyone?
Thankfully, I started to experiment with different beans and grains and vegetables and it ended up being a delicious month.
In many of our favorite, vegetable-based meals, quinoa was the star of the show. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an ancient whole grain that is a complete protein. At 6 grams of protein per serving, it is a filling, versatile gluten-free option for a vegetable-based meal. It can be used as a breakfast cereal, in baked goods, in salads, or as the main dish.
In the Portland area, Costco carries four pound bags of organic quinoa for $9.79 ($2.45/lb.). This price is hard to beat (Winco bulk is $3.62/lb and Fred Meyer or Trader Joe’s is $3.99/lb). Healthworks Organic Quinoa is currently sitting at around $3.69 per pound on Amazon! I would easily spend twice that per pound on good meat.
Remember, I’m not trying to start a Vegetarian Revolution here. I’m just encouraging you to incorporate meatless meals if it works for your family, both for the variety and savings.
This recipe for quinoa patties is easily one of our new favorite main dishes. The recipe is simple and quick to create, especially if you already have cooked quinoa on hand. If you cook a big batch of quinoa ahead of time, it will keep in the refrigerator for several days or the freezer for several months.
This quinoa recipe also keeps well in the fridge or freezer for a smaller, ready-to-cook meal option. We like these served simply, with avocado slices on top.
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen (Amazon)
Feel free to play around with this basic recipe; the cheese and vegetables can be changed to fit your preferences.
2 1/2 c. cooked quinoa at room temperature
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. finely chopped chives or green onions
1/3 c. finely chopped yellow or white onion
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese (goat or feta cheese is good, too)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 c. bread crumbs
1 T. olive oil, for cooking
- To cook quinoa: Combine 2 cups of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 3 cups of water and 1/2 t. of salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. (This will make more than you need for this recipe. Cool and refrigerate or freeze the rest for later!)
- To make quinoa patties: Combine 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When hot, shape 12 1″-thick quinoa patties. They don’t have to be perfect. I’ve found the easiest way is to scoop 1/4 cup (use a measuring cup) of the mixture into wet hands, quickly press it into small patties, and slide it into the hot oil with a spatula.
- Cover and cook for 4-6 minutes until the underside is golden brown, flip, and repeat until the other side is also a golden brown and the quinoa patty is firm (cooked in the middle). Serve hot or cold with your choice of toppings, if any.
If you make quinoa or rice or any grain that you need to rinse first, you need this OXO Good Grips Small Grains Washing Colander. It washes and drains everything without it ending up in your sink. Seriously, it’s transforming.
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