Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Grilling Weekend (a recipe for those of us who might be grill-less, want to go meat-less or both)

Tis the season to fire up the grill! But seeing as we are in the land of it is June and I wake up and still have to put a hoodie on to go outside (and I still might be cold) chilling grill-side isn't really something we look forward to doing. That combined with an upstairs apartment makes you get a little creative around here if you want to grill.

My other major problem when it comes to grilling is finding a meatless patty concoction that holds it's
shape and won't fall apart while cooking (resulting in huge mess on a grill, not that much of a mess in a pan.)

Now I found this recipe on I dig this website. (When I was eating meat I found a recipe on there for herbed pork chops. They were O-M-geee amazing. Every once in a while the thought of eating that recipe makes me want to cook up Wilbur again. My apologies buddy.) This time I found spinach and quinoa patties. I am always trying to find more ways to get greens into my dinner and into my toddler's mouth. So in burger form with sweet potato fries this was a win-win twinkle in this mama's eye.

A word about quinoa. If you haven't heard about this rockstar grain yet you need to get it into your pantry! It is a complete protein source (which is a huge deal for those of us that don't eat creatures for whatever reason) and super easy to cook. As easy to cook as rice. It make a great rice substitute too (my hubby likes to make quinoa and shove it in his burritos.) Technically, this superstar is a seed and super easy to flavor. Think being able to douse it with cinnamon for breakfast but cooking it in veggie stock for dinner. It is one of my favorite things to eat. And we tell B that they are seeds like birdies eat. So many a times we sit around the table tweeting as we eat (and not the kind you do from your smartphone. Welcome to the crazy house.)

So as my quinoa spinach patties cooked up they got all crispy crunchy on the outside and were still pretty gooey on the inside (a combo that makes my taste receptors go all it's a party.) These babies were great but I don't know how they would fare on a grill. They stayed together pretty well in a pan and once all crunchy on both sides. I was also thinking how it would work if you made them ahead of time and refrigerated so they were a little more chilled together (and if you wouldn't be all quinoa sticky hands in the middle of your grill-fest party.) It was just me cooking for our little family out here so I wasn't too concerned about the sticky hands mess but since I like to have hoards of people around me when I am home (ask John how many time I thwarted his chance to propose because I had to invite everyone I knew to go with us everywhere. The more the merrier - unless you want to get engaged.) I always try to come up with way to make it work in a party or small get together or anywhere I would rather be drinking a beer and hanging out with friends than locked in the kitchen making a mess.

While the texture of the patties was great, the flavor was kind of underwhelming. Since I was tasting as I was mushing my quinoa and spinach and (flax) eggs together I just started dumping in spices. I added (in addition to the traditional salt and pepper) some cumin and extra garlic as well as some basil. I think in making these again I would cook the quinoa in veggie stock instead of water to give it some more flavor. So I highly recommend flavoring these to your liking.

I would also like to try it with more spinach. The spinach was more of an accent in this burger. I wanted it to be the main event. I know there would be a risk that the patties wouldn't stick together as well but I intend to play with adding more spinach next time. You can view the original recipe here.

This is how I cooked them up:

1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used Bob's Red Mill brand.)

2 cups of water (or veggie stock)

4 flax eggs (or regular eggs)

1 onion minced

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 cup steamed spinach

minced garlic

salt & pepper to taste

basil to taste

cumin to taste

olive oil (I used my Mistoto spray olive oil in the pan)


Rinse the quinoa and bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed the liquid -- about 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa (you may want to let it cool a bit first) the spinach, the onion, eggs, salt, pepper and any other spices you want to throw in there. Mix it all up and let it sit a few minutes to absorb the liquid and get gooey. Make into patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cook each patty about 8-10 minutes on each side or until they are golden crunchy and delicious looking.

Serve with or without buns.

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