I recently received a review copy of Heidi Swanson's gorgeous new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, and was excited to try out some of the recipes. The book itself is seriously beautiful--dreamy photographs, heavy matte paper, and lots of simple, inspiring ingredients. It's vegetarian, which I admit something that I usually shy away from in terms of cookbooks, but I really like her way of presenting ideas and techniques that I can then incorporate into my own cooking.
My plan initially was to actually follow some of the recipes to the letter (itself an exercise in restraint since I usually suck at reigning in my improvisational tendencies--can any of you relate to that?), but that idea quickly went out the window. You see, while leafing through the book, I came across her recipe for "Little Quinoa Patties," with goat cheese, garlic, and herbs, which totally caught my eye. I go wild for all kinds of savory patties, cakes, and fritters, and just so happened to have a log of goat cheese in the fridge and some quinoa in the pantry. Perfect!
Only problem? The recipe didn't seem to actually match the description! I read the entire recipe and ingredient list multiple times, but there was no goat cheese listed anywhere in the ingredient list or directions. In fact, what the recipe actually calls for is Parmesan or Gruyère; both of which are made from cow's milk. (I totally even Googled to double-check this as I wasn't positive about the gruyere, but yeah, both from cows.)
So...my guess is that the recipe originally called for goat cheese and then was altered during the editing process, or perhaps it was just a editing error? Whatever happened, I can tell you that by this point I was in love with the idea of quinoa patties made with goat cheese, and decided to forge ahead with that idea anyway, using Heidi's recipe as a guide for the proportions.
I first made two cups of red quinoa in low sodium chicken broth (you can use water, but I like that it infuses a little more flavor), and while still hot, I added them to a large bowl in which I'd already placed about 4 ounces of creamy goat cheese, some hot red pepper flakes, a pinch of thyme, and two finely minced garlic cloves. I stirred gently, allowing the heat from the quinoa to melt the cheese and infuse the mix with the aroma of the fresh garlic and thyme.
I remembered that I had some asparagus that needed to get used soon, so I diced it up into tiny pieces, and sauteed it quickly on a very hot pan for just a couple minutes. I tossed the asparagus with lots of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt and stirred it into the quinoa. Just like in Heidi's recipe I added 4 beaten eggs and whole wheat breadcrumbs (well, whole wheat Panko, actually since it's what I had on hand).
Instead of forming patties with the mix as indicated in the original recipe, I used an ice cream scoop to scoop out even sized amounts that I plopped right into the hot oil. I use this method for all kinds of cake frying as it's easier, quicker, and much less messy. I let each scoop cook for about a minute before squashing it down with the back of my spatula (oiled to prevent sticking), and then let them crisp up another couple minutes before flipping.
I wanted to serve these with something, so I made a simple yogurt sauce--just Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sea salt--and served the cakes for dinner topped with the sauce and a thin sliver of this really, really good smoked salmon I bought last weekend.
These made a fantastic dinner (I had 4 patties; Eugene had 6), with enough leftover for today's lunch. The mix keeps well in the fridge overnight so you can prepare that much in advance and then cook them just before serving. I think these would also make a wonderful appetizer for a dinner party (you could even make them into smaller, meatball-sized patties and serve them as finger food).
I'm going to try another recipe from this book later this week, but until then, I'm just happy for the inspiration it gave me to try something a little different. Because honestly, that's what I really think cookbooks are all about.
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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quinoa Patties
w/ Smoked Salmon & Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Very loosely inspired by Heidi Swanson's "Little Quinoa Patties," p. 121 Super Natural Every Day. This recipe can also be made with leftover quinoa, but I recommend heating it up a bit before adding to the cheese so that everything melts easily. If you don't have (or like) quinoa, you can also make this using cooked white or brown rice, bulgar wheat, or cous cous.
For the patties:
4 oz goat cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, preferably fresh
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
juice and zest of 2 lemons, divided (one for the patties, one for the yogurt sauce)
2 cups hot cooked quinoa
1 pound asparagus, diced into 1/2" pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs recommended)
1/4 cup coconut, grapeseed, or canola oil for frying
For the yogurt sauce:
3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (such as Fage)
juice and zest of 1 lemon (as noted above)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into small pieces (about 1" by 3")
In a large bowl, combine the goat cheese, minced garlic, thyme, red pepper, and juice and zest of 1 lemon. Add the hot, cooked quinoa on top and stir gently, letting the heat from the quinoa melt the cheese. Stir until quinoa is fully coated. Set aside.
While the quinoa cools, prepare the yogurt dressing, by whisking together the 3/4 cup of yogurt, juice and zest of the second lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Whisk until loose and smooth, adding more lemon juice or salt if necessary. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced asparagus and saute quickly for 2 minutes. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then fold into the quinoa and cheese mix.
Add the beaten eggs and the bread crumbs, and stir until thoroughly combined. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of coconut, grapeseed, or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to drop even-sized scoops of the quinoa mix into the oil. Be sure to not crowd your pan leaving 1 to 2 inches between each scoop. Let cook for 1 minute, then use a spatula that has been oiled or sprayed with nonstick spray to press down on the scoop and flatten it into a pattie. Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and crisp on bottom side, then flip and cook for an addition 2 to 3 minutes. Once crisp and golden on both sides, remove from the hot oil and place on a paper-towel lined platter to drain. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Assemble the patties
Top each patty with a dollop of the yogurt dressing and one small piece of smoked salmon. Serve immediately.