A Frenzied Fortnight | Mushroom & Basil Quinoa Patties
The past two weeks have been exhausting. I hosted a dinner party and a birthday party. I collected two bunches each of kale, collards, chard, radishes, and lettuce, along with strawberries, sweet potatoes, arugula, mustard greens, and broccoli from my CSA and attempted not to waste them, despite eating out a lot. I (mostly) kept up with my weekly bread baking and made all of Mike’s requested birthday treats: oolong ice cream, strawberry rhubarb pie, and chocolate chip cookie cake. I tasted beer, sat through a super-hero movie, saw a double-feature rock opera, and held Colin Meloy’s crowd-surfing hand. I got a sinus infection and did lots of yoga. Tomorrow, I take Inka to the vet for dental surgery. Tomorrow night, hopefully, I exhale.
I like being busy. The more energy I use, the more I tend to have. But while many fun times have been had so far this month, I’m looking forward to re-upping my energy stores for the rest of it. After much of what felt like “vacation eating,” wherein seemingly every meal featured bread and cocktails, for Mike’s 30th birthday party, I wanted to avoid party food that relied too heavily on carbs—a problem I often encounter when making vegetarian party menus. It was tempting to try to pawn off my glut of greens onto party guests, but I know better. Instead, I turned to a better-loved superfood: quinoa.
I had made a version of these quinoa patties a few weeks ago and wasn’t wowed by them but felt they had promise. This appetizer-sized version really benefits from the meatiness of the mushrooms, and the smaller bites improved the texture. Mike and I both agreed that the first version I tried would have benefited from some kind of sauce, so I topped the party patties with a bit of muhammara, but you might also try a pesto. A major selling point for me is that they keep well in the refrigerator (either before cooking or after) and are just as delicious reheated or even at room temperature. Grab a few for a little superfood boost if you find yourself in the midst of your own busy two weeks—or recovering from them.
Mushroom and Basil Quinoa Patties
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day
Yield: about two dozen appetizer-sized patties
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or stock
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
half a medium-sized red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup shredded gruyere
1/4 cup chiffonaded basil
1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and water, as needed
To cook the quinoa, rinse it under running water through a fine sieve. Add the quinoa, water or stock , and a large pinch of salt (unless your stock is heavily salted) to a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is toothsome. If the quinoa cooks before absorbing all the liquid, drain off any excess. Set aside to cool.
Heat about a tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until tender and all moisture has cooked off, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute or two. Stir in the red wine vinegar, and keep on the heat for another 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
Stir together the cooled quinoa and cooled mushroom mixture. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the eggs, gruyere, basil, and breadcrumbs. Adjust the moisture level by adding additional breadcrumbs or water. You should be able to form about a tablespoon and a half of the quinoa into tight balls that hold their shape, are not too sticky, and can be pressed into patties without falling apart. If you find them difficult to flip after cooking on one side, add more breadcrumbs to the rest of the mixture.
In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Press the quinoa balls into patties, and press down lightly as you place them in the skillet. Cover, and cook for 6–8 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown. Flip, pressing down slightly again, and cook covered for another 6–8 minutes to brown the other side. Repeat with the remaining patties, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
Keep patties warm in a 200˚ oven on a wire rack for up to an hour, or serve at room temperature after cooling on a wire rack. Top patties with a dollop of muhammara, pesto, or other sauce of your choice.