Quinoa Patties/Burgers and being “Flexitarian”


Have you ever dabbled with the thought of being vegetarian?  If you’ve ever watched any of the food documentaries out there (like Food Inc.), it won’t take you long to think long and hard about removing meat (and even dairy products from your diet).  You might try it for a while and think “this ain’t so bad”, but then a really good burger crosses your path or an irresistible piece of really old, delectable chesse is offered with a beautiful glass of Amarone, and you think, pffft, who needs to be thaaaat good?.
For some of us, being exclusive about anything (that isn’t mandated from your doctor because of a medical condition) is about as easy as getting out of bed for a run on a cold, snowy, Sunday morning (come on, you know you’re all thinking the same thing as me).  Like Julia Child, I believe in “everything in moderation”.  So, instead of being a vegetarian, be a flexitarian…flexible about your meat choices while trying to incorporate healthy options (because we all know a vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat but lives on Doritos and donuts).
When you listen to food gurus like Michael Pollan, you begin to realize that we should be eating real food, less of it and mainly plants.  So, with that in mind, I have tried to eat far less meat and play with other things to get proteins into my diet.  This isn’t hard because I love beans, cheese, eggs (yes, vegan-ism would NEVER work) and am incorporating other forms of protein like quinoa. Pronounced KEEN-wah, it’s a delicious whole grain that was prized by the Incas and is the only grain that contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  It has a nutty flavour with a slightly crunchy texture (if not over-cooked).  The actual seed looks a bit like a sesame seed but changes appearance when it is cooked.  It can be a substitution for rice and pasta and can be found , pre-washed (as the grain has a bitter resin called Saponin that must be rinsed off) in most grocery stores and health food stores.
I cook it in batches and use it for a lot of things (as a substitute for oatmeal with some maple syrup on it, in my smoothies, and in chocolate cake…recipe is posted!).  You can even freeze the cooked quinoa and use it later.
Now if we could find a term for slowly eliminating sugar from our diets, that’s a whole other dilemma!
:2-3 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs
1 c feta cheese, diced (or even goat cheese crumbled will work)
a bunch of greens (your choice – I used chard and beet greens), cooked
1 bunch green onions
1 lime
tzaziki (optional)
salsa (optional)
chives (for garnish)
additional add-ins that might be nice: black olives, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, capers, smoked salmon….be creative!* the greens should be sauteed in a pan with some olive oil, cooking the ribs first to soften them and then adding the green part.  If you are using something tender, like spinach, just throw the whole thing in.

1.  In a bowl, mix everything except salsa, tzaziki and chives.  Mix well (your hands will work best).  Form into patties and cook in a pan that has been heated with some olive oil.
2.  Remove to a paper towel and quickly blot (can be kept warm at this point in a low oven or warming drawer for an hour)
3.  Serve warm (or even at room temperature) with tzaziki, salsa and chives.  If you make large patties, they can be served with a large salad or hearty soup.  If you make them small, serve with toothpicks as an appetizer.  AND, guess what?  You can even double batch these and freeze them uncooked…defrost them a bit (or in the fridge overnight) and fry them up – they are fantastic!


Here is everything ready to go (bibs removed from the chard and beet greens because you should cook those first and then add the greens to wilt). The salsa is some that I had bought from the store, but I roasted some tomatillos that I had in the freezer (the last bag that I had from the batch I grew in my garden last year), chopped them and added them to the store bought salsa to give it a kick!

This is what I mean by cutting the ribs first (it looks like celery when it’s diced). Cook them down first, they way you would soften celery or onions, then add the rest of the leaf.

These are the leafy parts cut into a chiffonade…that’s a fancy word for “cut into slivers”. Just pile the leaves on top of each other, roll them like a cigar and slice them with a knife. When you’re done, fluff them with your fingers, and bob’s your uncle!

These are my spring onions from the garden but green onions at the store are cheap now so buy a lot of them and put them in everything!!

Throw it all in a bowl and mix it up good with your hands. When they are cooked in olive oil, they are crunchy on the outside and moist and cheesy on the inside….total yum!!

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