I have a lot of admiration for Heidi Swanson. She’s very artsy fartsy – much more so than I could ever be, but even more she is a steadfast cultivator of healthy, natural, and delicious food. To be honest, when I hear “healthy” food I cringe because I associate it with extra powders and “superfoods”. But, I do love seasonal, natural eating; less of the processed stuff. And Heidi makes it so good!
Heidi is the one who gave us quinoa cakes, which I love and make often, baked oatmeal, and many others and is so much of a trendsetter and innovator that folks like Ottolenghi even find inspiration with her. She’s put forth so many good ideas that are copied so prolifically that she doesn’t get the credit for a lot of her work. But, she is a trendsetter and innovator to be sure. She knows herself and cultivates her being and her work – which is a form of genius in and of itself.
She was criticized a bit in the blogging world for her 4th book – Near and Far – for it being too far fetched and removed from reality. So I put off reading it. After reading Near and Far – I wholeheartedly disagree with any naysayers. Heidi is most definitely a vegetarian 10.0 while most people are still stuck at 2.0. There’s no doubting that. But, she makes it all accessible. She shows you the how and the why without judgment or being sanctimonious.
I recently read her first book, Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen, as well. I just love how she thinks through her dishes. She provides the basic and then has a page or two on variations that make the recipe different and fresh any time you make it. She’s not the first to do this, but I love it when writers inspire that way. It really helps me and helps my recipe files as well.
Will I ever be as creative or organized as Heidi…. well, one can hope. I have no inclination towards being a complete vegetarian, but I do like to keep my meals lighter and fresher, for which Heidi is always an inspiration.
I would love to know how Heidi meal plans and what she reads day to day. I’d also like to know how she budgets meals – because all that fresh produce is pricey. So you know, basically everything about her kitchen world!
Her meals (generally) require a lot of planning and prep, if there is a downside it’s that. Because quick jaunts to the store for ingredients are always a financial kick in the pants. That being said, they’re all so delightful, healthy, and good! Her foods are some of the very few foods I want to eat now that I’m pregnant. (Others are Ethiopian, Indian, and Bankers Hill/Tender Greens) That’s it. How odd is it that I crave salads and greens? For me, its abnormal. I’ve always enjoyed them, but they’ve never been what I strictly want to eat…..Is this baby vegetable friendly? One can hope (as long as they’re healthy! Its all good!)
Without further ado, here are the quinoa patties I enjoy so much and I encourage you to follow her online if you aren’t already, as well as seek out her material at the library and book store. All of her material is great and stands the test of time. I hope you make and enjoy these. Please let me know if you do.
Adapted from 101cookbooks.com
Note: I sauted the onions and garlic because I’m very sensitive to raw alliums, especially after a 1st trimester incident. However, Heidi doesn’t do this.
Also, Heidi prefers to bake hers, which is probably far easier because you can do them all at once, but I pan fry mine because I like the crispy, olive-oily-ness of them. The trick to pan frying them (and pan frying anything) is to ensure the skillet is well heated to begin with. These will stick to a pan that hasn’t been heated properly.
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
5 large eggs, lightly beaten (sometimes I only need 4 – so you may want to start with that)
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives (I didn’t have chives this time, so I left it out)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup finely chopped kale (I used spinach, any green should work nicely)
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I only used one, as I said, garlic and I aren’t friends at the moment)
1 teaspoon (toasted) cumin
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
water or a bit of flour, if needed
1/3 cup crumbled feta (I’ve also used goat cheese, but I think feta warms better)
Extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter (I’ve only ever used olive oil)
To pan fry my way:
Heat a skillet over medium heat for a good ten minutes. Then add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and let that warm.
Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until soft. No need to caramelize, I just wanted to soften and take the raw edge off. Put the mixture aside and let it cool while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
Combine quinoa, eggs, salt, herbs, and greens in a medium bowl – mix well.
Mix in cumin, baking powder, and breadcrumbs. Gently stir in feta. The mixture should hold together pretty well, if its too dry add a bit of water. If its too wet add a bit more breadcrumbs or flour.
I used a 1/3 C measuring cup to measure out and form my patties. And I pan fried for 5-6 minutes on each side, until each side is nicely browned and crisp. I added a bit more olive oil to the skillet before each batch. In my skillet, only 2-3 fit in comfortably at a time. I made 13 patties.
Heidi prefers to bake these. If you’d like to go that route, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet and arrange patties with a bit of space between them. Bake for 20 minutes until bottoms are nice and browned, then flip and bake for 5 minutes.
Two or three patties makes for a hearty dinner for me. In truth a salad would be a nice accompaniment, in which case only 1-2 patties are needed per person. I really like these and I hope you make them.
** When making quinoa rinse the first before cooking. This takes off the saponins which are bitter and potentially toxic in high amounts (higher than you or I are likely to eat). Then I just follow the boxed instructions.