What happens when a barefoot, granola-souled, flowers-in-her-hair, back-to-the-land, mostly-vegetarian, singer/guitar player meets a Stetson-hatted, pickup truck driving (with a gun-rack—for holding lariats and coffee cups, because gun-racks are not a good place to keep a gun), boots with spurs and Wrangler wearing, team-roping cowboy?
Often with flowers in my hair.
After the addition of a wildly creative girly-girl and an athletic, no-life-without-sports boy, we became a household of radically varying tastes and persuasions.
When it came to food, the husband would eat a cheeseburger and fries for lunch every day (and he did, prior to marrying me). Dinner every night would be a steak (or venison or the fruit of whatever the day’s hunt produced) and baked potato with butter AND sour cream, and chives. He passed that gene on to the boy.
Chives are a green vegetable, right?
I on the other hand, would eat something different and laden with vegetables (or dessert) at every meal. (The girl went for the longest time on a diet that included about six items–mostly dessert. Fortunately, she outgrew that.)
Someone was going to have to adapt, and may I say that they have done an admirable job! Once again though, in the interest of being fair; I cook, and the rest of the family—not so much, so they have always been at my mealtime mercy.
As the years have multiplied (and the offspring have grown and are mostly gone), so has my former cowboy’s gastronomic repertoire. He has finally gotten accustomed to being the culinary equivalent of a laboratory mouse, and I think he actually likes the fact that I can go weeks on end without repeating the same menu—every night is ‘Chef’s Surprise’! Well, unless it’s something I’m in love with at the moment—then it can show up on the table pretty regularly until my infatuation with whatever it is wears off. Or unless it’s pasta.
One of the things we are trying to do, is to take part in “Meatless Monday”. While there are plenty of nights throughout the month that our meals are meatless, having one night where that is the plan ahead of time makes planning my weekly menus much simpler. Plus, I love the whole ‘unity’ aspect of millions of people all over the world taking part in the same thing at the same time.
Pretty cool when you think of it like that, huh?
That being said, I’m having a tough time with Quinoa. No, I don’t mean cooking it, I mean getting excited about cooking it. Or eating it. I don’t know why, but the current darling of the vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free world just does not excite me the way say, wild rice does. Or Polenta. I LOVE everything about Polenta—scattering the grains into the boiling water, stirring it, that wonderful ‘pop-poof’ sound it makes as it simmers and thickens—oh wait, I’m supposed to be writing about Quinoa.
So, in an effort to broaden my thinking about Quinoa, I made some the other day to turn into some patties that I saw on Pinterest a few weeks ago. I thought they looked like an interesting and tasty addition to the rest of that night’s meal of roasted root vegetables and Brussels sprouts. (The root veggies were carrots, parsnips, garnet yams, and sprouts with olive oil, coarse salt and cracked pepper—thanks for asking.)
They were definitely fun to make, but when I taste-tested them…well, let’s just say that I felt they would fall short of the husband’s expectations. I whipped up a Thai-inspired, spicy, peanut sauce to dress them up, and with the addition of the sauce, they became something that I will make (and that he would eat) again. They taste fine (with the sauce), they’re economical, nutritious, easy to prepare—but so are lots of things. Like Polenta.
But the real reason these little guys will make a regular visit to our kitchen is this; re-tasting them the next day, I uncovered their true glory—they are a fantastic sandwich filling—one that even the cheeseburger-and-fries husband loved! Whole-grain bread with a dab of Dijon mustard, some thinly-sliced red onion, with a bit of Jarlsberg swiss cheese (gruyere would be good too) melted on them put these patties over the top!
They have definitely earned a spot in the rotation for now, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to love Quinoa—although I’m not sure I’ll be serving it with a Bolognese sauce or Chicken Cacciatore anytime soon.
What are some of your favorite things to do with Quinoa? I’m looking for more ways to use it, so please comment and let me know what you love to make with it!
Happy Monday, and thanks for coming to see me.
Quinoa and Spinach Patties
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 T minced onion
- 2 large scallions, sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 cup steamed spinach, chopped (frozen is fine—make sure to squeeze as much moisture out of the spinach as possible)
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs *
- olive oil (for the pan)
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and place the grains in a medium sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is tender and has absorbed the liquid, about 20 minutes. Let it cool.
Combine the quinoa and all of the other ingredients in a large bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes so all the liquid will be absorbed. The batter should be moist, but not runny. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to form patties. Flatten to about ¾ inch thick.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. In multiple batches, cover and cook the patties for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until browned and golden.
*These can be gluten-free if you use GF breadcrumbs