We’re not as carnivorous as we used to be.
That was part of the motivation behind this recipe for Italian Quinoa Patties. Not that we were ever big red meat eaters. Don’t get me wrong, we like beef, but I only cook it on occasion, like in the yummy Hot and Toasty Steak Sandwich or Cheesesteak Eggrolls. The rest of the time we used to eat mainly poultry, and then occasionally pork, seafood or a vegetarian meal. But things have changed.
In the past few years, we’ve transitioned to eating many more vegetarian meals. It took some time to make that transition since so many of the “go to” meals I had developed over the years contained some form of meat. Meat was the centerpiece and I would build the rest of the meal around it.
I do a lot of recipe research, so I just shifted my focus to finding and creating more and more vegetarian main dish meals. I don’t think my kids even noticed. I don’t like being in a dinner rut making the same handful of meals over and over, so my family is used to the fact that I’m always trying out something new on them. We like food too much to get bored by it.
When I make something new, we vote on whether the meal is a “make again,” “make again with changes,” or “please never make that again.” All the “make agains” get filed in the dinner binder and the others we consider nothing ventured, nothing gained. I don’t think the kids noticed that more and more of the “new” meals were vegetarian because I never presented them that way. It was all just food and we either liked it or we didn’t.
Italian Quinoa Patties? There’s really nothing not to like about them. They’re cute little patties that are full of protein and flavor. I took a short cut with Italian flavored bread crumbs, then grated up some romano cheese, sautéed some onion and garlic, and added fresh parsley and basil. Basically, I used the same ingredients I might add to a dish where the base was ground meat, but subbed out the meat for quinoa.
I actually like to cook and freeze plain quinoa, just like I do with Perfect White Rice. Then, I’m always ready to make this recipe, or other quinoa recipes without the step of cooking the quinoa first.
The quinoa mixture forms into patties pretty easily, then they get pan fried until they’re cooked through and golden brown. Two or three patties easily make a meal with some veggies or a salad on the side. Leftovers heat up easily in the microwave as a quick snack, or in our case, dinner the next day. (I always try to plan one or two meals a week that have leftovers so I don’t have to cook every single night.)
We still eat and enjoy meals that are not vegetarian, but more and more often we eat meals like this…
and this one is definitely a “make again.”
Italian Quinoa Patties
- 1/2 medium onion chopped (about 3/4 -1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
- 3/4 cup finely grated romano cheese I use Locatelli
- 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4-1/2 cup milk
- olive oil for frying
- Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent, adding the garlic about halfway through cooking so that you don't risk burning it. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the quinoa, cooked onions with garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, basil and parsley.
- In a liquid measuring cup beat eggs and 1/4 cup milk with a fork until combined. Pour over quinoa mixture and combine thoroughly. The mixture should be able to form a patty. If not, add a bit more milk to moisten the mixture. If your mixture is too wet to form a patty, you can add more bread crumbs. I've never needed to add more bread crumbs, I'm usually adding more milk.
- Use a quarter cup measuring cup to scoop mixture, then form into patties.
- Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place patties in the skillet and cook until bottoms are a deep golden brown, then flip to cook other side. This will take about 7-8 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and keep warm while you cook the remaining patties, adding more oil to the skillet, if necessary.
* I formed the patties and placed them directly into the skillet. You could make all of the patties first and set them aside on a baking sheet if you want to patty them up all at once. I would lightly cover them with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying while you're cooking the first batches.
*You can halve the recipe, but leftovers heat nicely in the microwave. We ate two to three patties each as our main dish, which left us enough for one more meal.
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