quinoa black bean patties with tzatziki sauce

Quinoa Black Bean Patties with Tzatziki Sauce
Our company has arrived. Hurricane Sandy is howling in the dark outside. The lashing rains I expected has not come yet. We’re not sure what will happen next; the subway system will be shut down again tomorrow. I thought about family and how scattered we are between two continents.  For a brief time this month we came together. Andy flew in from Bangkok for his birthday.  Then Taranee came to NYC for the Rock ‘n Roll New York 10k race and we made this meal together. Good times, remembered.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes (includes quinoa cooking and resting time)
Makes 8-10 servings

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa* (1 cup uncooked)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese (I used 3/4 cup Monterey Jack and 1/4 cup feta cheeses)
1/2 cup tomato salsa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

To cook the quinoa, put the dried quinoa in a large pot. Rinse and drain. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Let the quinoa cool, uncovered, about 10 minutes.  You can do this step a day ahead then refrigerate the cooked quinoa until ready to use.

Line a rimmed baking tray with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Brush with olive oil. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a third-cup measure, scoop up a level cupful of the quinoa mixture, firmly packed.  Turn it out into your hand, compress and flatten, then gently place the patty on the prepared baking tray. Make another patty and place it about an inch apart from the first patty. Continue making patties.

Put the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Flip. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with tzatziki sauce. And, I also recommend whole wheat pita pocket bread and a fresh salad.

Tzatziki Sauce (adapted from the South Beach Diet)

1 cup plain non-fat Greek style yogurt
2/3 cup cucumber, seeded and diced (Use long English cucumber–it’s called Japanese cucumber in Thailand)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 heaping tablespoons of fresh dill or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds
2 heaping tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons white vinegar, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well blended. The mixture should be slightly thick. If additional thickness is desired, increase the cucumber to 1 cup.

lotsa tomato! baked quinoa patties

I took a break from the blog but I didn’t stop cooking! I’ve been experimenting with this recipe from 101cookbooks.com. First I tried it straight but it came out too coarse. Then, on the second try,  I put in some blackbeans, salsa, and cheese, and it was moister but still coarse. On the third try I remembered that my aunt adds a tomato to her shrimp fritters to make them moist, so chopped up half a tomato and put it in with the original recipe. It did come out moist but still coarse. I finally realized what I should do is reduce the amount of whole wheat breadcrumbs in the recipe.  I served it with tomato salsa and arugula and plum tomatoes. Is lotsa tomato, like we say in Jamaica. But I love tomatoes. And this is the season for them.

Baked Quinoa Patties

2 1/2 cups / 12 oz /340 g cooked quinoa, at room temperature (1 cup raw quinoa)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup/ .5 oz /15 g finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup /.5 oz /15 g finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup / 1.5 oz /45 g finely chopped kale
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon (toasted) cumin
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup / 3.5 oz /100 g whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
water or a bit of flour, if needed
1/3 cup / .5 oz / 15 g crumbled feta (optional)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, dill, kale, onion, garlic, and cumin. Stir well.

Add the baking powder and bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Gently stir in the feta. I’ve left out the feta cheese and it had no noticeable difference.

I used a one-third cup measure to make 11 patties. To make the patties moister, 101cookbooks recommends adding another beaten egg or water one tablespoon at a time to the quinoa mixture.  To make it dryer, add flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Generously spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and arrange the patties with a bit of space between each. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip the patties over and bake for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy hot, or allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack. Makes about a dozen patties. It tastes pretty good hot or cold.

roast chicken with vegetables and quinoa pudding

Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Carrots

This was amazingly easy to make and so good for you! Another recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy cookbook, it is light, the chicken is juicy, and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Since I like food that snaps with spice, I found this dish to be rather bland. So. Fair warning to those whose palates are decidedly more adventuresome.

4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on, trimmed of extra fat
Salt and pepper
1 pound carrots (I used baby carrots)
10 ounces Brussels sprouts
1 butternut squash (about 2 cups), peeled, seeded, cubed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and quartered (didn’t have any; left these out)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, if needed (or water)
Lemon wedges for serving (didn’t have any; used lemon pepper)

Seasoning I added:
Mrs. Dash Italian Medley seasoning, optional
Garlic powder, optional

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450˚F
2. Toss the Brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash, shallots, garlic, oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a bowl. Spread the vegetables in a 13×9 inch baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
3. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. [I sprinkled Mrs. Dash and garlic powder here.] Lay the chicken, skin side up, on a wire rack. Carefully place the wire rack over the dish of partially cooked vegetables (the rack may overhang the dish slightly). Roast until the chicken registers 160 to 165˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 30-35 minutes. Note: If after 30 minutes the chicken registers 155, I would take it out and move on to step 4. On resting, the chicken’s internal temperature will continue to rise.
4. Transfer the chicken to a platter then remove and discard the skin. Tent the chicken loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. If the vegetables are not yet tender, stir in the broth or water and continue to cook until they are tender, up to 15 minutes longer. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to the platter with the chicken. Serve with the lemon wedges, or, as I did, a dash of lemon pepper.

For dessert I made a Quinoa Pudding from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com . It can be either a dessert or breakfast, depending on how you feel about quinoa. Personally, I could eat it any time of day! Quinoa, which is originally from South America, is not a cereal grain as it is not a member of the grass family (Thanks, Wikipedia). The taste is slightly nutty and the texture pops in your mouth, a little slippery, with a mouth-feel that reminds me of caviar! I eat quinoa for breakfast (and dessert) with a spoonful of dried cranberries on top. You can put a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream to make it remind you of those decadent desserts you will forgo because you are on a diet.

Quinoa Pudding with Dried Cranberries

3/4 cup quinoa*
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (I used a sugar substitute)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse the quinoa. This is a step you shouldn’t ignore, as I did. I ended up with a cup of foam on top of the quinoa when it was cooking. Put the rinsed quinoa in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
2. In a blender, add the milk, bananas,sugar or sugar substitute, and salt. Process until the bananas are puréed. Pour the milk mixture into the pot with the quinoa and mix.
3. Over medium heat, cook and stir until the quinoa mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or cold.

*I buy quinoa in bulk at Whole Foods. If you’ve never tried it before, 3/4 cup isn’t an expensive investment.