Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quinoa Fritters with Red Pepper Mayonnaise

If you've never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), pull up a chair and learn your one new borderline fun fact for the day. Quinoa's nickname is the supergrain, but technically it isn't a grain at all. It's really an ancient seed native to South America (once called the gold of the Incas), related to leafy green vegetables like spinach. But let's pretend for now that it's a grain (which is commonly done), so we can call it by its nickname (I love superheros so it makes eating quinoa more fun for me). The reason it's considered super is because it's the only "grain" that's a complete protein (which means it's not only high in protein, but has all nine essential amino acids too). 

Quinoa is high in magnesium, riboflavin, lysine...I could on and on about the health benefits, but I'm starting to bore myself a little. Let's just say it's incredibly good for you and leave it at that. Once cooked, quinoa has a somewhat nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture. It can be cooked with beans, chicken or vegetables, made into tabbouleh or other salads, served as a hot cereal or just seasoned any way you'd like and eaten as a side dish. See, super.

Yield: about 12 fritters

2/3 cup white or black quinoa, rinsed and well drained (if necessary)
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated cotija or feta cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 scallions (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup canola or grape seed oil

Red Pepper Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/3 cup roughly chopped, roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.     Place a small, dry saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Transfer to a large saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2.     Meanwhile, to make mayonnaise combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3.     In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, flour, cheese, and salt. Add scallions, parsley, egg, and yolk. Stir thoroughly with a spoon until the mixture has the consistency of soft dough.
4.     Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using two soup spoons, press batter into egg-shaped ovals and gently slide into the hot oil or use a small ice cream scoop. Fry until the bottoms are golden and brown, less than a minute. Turn and fry the second side until golden, less than a minute. Drain on paper towels and serve warm, topped with red pepper mayonnaise.

from Chef Mary Sue Milliken (Top Chef Masters, Season 3, Ep. 5, Elimination Challenge Winner)

raw quinoa (looks very similar to sesame seeds, only slightly rounder)

It's important to rinse well before cooking because quinoa has saponin on
it (a bitter, resin-like substance that acts as a natural insect repellent).
roasted garlic cloves (I made extra)

To roast: place garlic cloves in a small baking dish and drizzle
with just enough olive oil to coat. Cover dish with foil and roast
at 375° F. until golden brown and tender, about 40 minutes.
Cool and squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins.
red pepper mayo ingredients
red pepper mayo

I think mine was a little loose because I used bottled roasted
red peppers and even though I drained them, I should have
reduced the amount of olive oil a little to compensate for whatever
was still clinging to the peppers. It was still delicious, just more like a sauce.
cooked quinoa
cooked quinoa, up close and personal
chopped scallions
grated cotija cheese
adding all the ingredients
everything mixed
pan frying the fritters

I didn't make mine into ovals using spoons,
I just formed patties with my hands.
flipped and almost ready


Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) said...

Love, love, love, love, love this! Quinoa is delicious and since it's "grain" I can get Andy to eat it. Hooray for disguised protein!

Randi said...

How do you pronouce quinn-oh-wa?

Susan said...

Like it sounds.

Anonymous said...

I made the sauce tonight to use with shrimp. It was delicious. I will try the Quinoa soon - out of it right now.

Susan said...

@Becky: And I thought I was teaching you something new!

Anonymous said...

On the sauce - yes. On the Quinoa - no. I'm still going to try your recipe, though.
You have taught me lots of new things, though.

Anonymous said...

Susan - another wonderful use for the sauce is shrimp salad (cold). Before I had used it with hot shrimp - I already told you how good that was.

I have been repeating other recipes lately and they are just as good when I try them again.


Susan said...

So glad Becky...thanks for all the comments!

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