Eating light, colorful, crunchy food makes me feel good, fits the season, and makes cooking more fun and interesting. Although I generally steer away from grains and high-carbohydrate food, I do occasionally indulge in quinoa. I just love the nutty taste, and that it makes a terrific breakfast "cereal" as well as a base for a flavor-packed salad. I've been eating a lot of hemp seeds lately because they taste a lot like quinoa, but are even higher in protein and fiber with very few carbohydrates. Now when I make quinoa, I make a 50-50 combination of quinoa and hemp seeds (1/2 cup red quinoa, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, 1 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt; bring to a boil, cover, simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed; eat warm or cover and chill to use in salads or the recipe below).
Keep reading for more and the fast and easy recipe.
I also absolutely adore beans and legumes. Adore. I enjoy them in small servings — they're so lovely in soups or stir-fries or as a binder for savory cakes. The beauty of making crispy cakes (croquettes, really) with quinoa and beans is that you can season them so many different ways. If I'm in the mood for Indian food, I'll use lentils and garam masala and chiles and top them with raita. If I'm craving Mexican food, I'll season them with cumin and chiles and top them with chicken, salsa, and cilantro. I'm sure you get the idea . . .
. . . so I'll just give you the basic ratios and let you riff on your favorite flavors. You can cook the beans yourself, or open a can of organic refried or whole beans (easily mashed), and in minutes be frying up a crispy cake. Top with a lemon-y salad, or a huge dollop of guacamole (huge!), or a gorgeous pile o' buttery sauteed mushrooms, or a grass-fed burger (like I did just a few minutes ago). Or:
Quinoa Cakes With Arugula and Poached Eggs
You can easily multiply this recipe and keep quinoa-bean mixture in the fridge, ready to fry into cakes for any meal of the day.
1 c. cooked quinoa (or quinoa + hemp seeds, see above)
1/2 c. cooked, mashed beans (pinto, navy, black, lentils, etc.)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tempeh, chopped (optional, adds protein and firmness)
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped pepitas or other nuts (optional)
Garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour as needed
A handful arugula leaves, chopped
A squeeze of fresh lemon
2 large, organic eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ramps, halved lengthwise (optional)
Fill a medium saucepan 2 inches deep with water. Add enough salt to the water for it to be pleasantly salty. Set over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the quinoa, beans, 1/2 tsp. salt, cumin, chile powder, garlic, tempeh (if using), feta (if using), and nuts (if using). Add garbanzo bean flour, a few teaspoons at a time, until mixture is firm. Form into two patties and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the quinoa cakes. Fry until nicely browned and crispy (take a peek before flipping) and then carefully flip. Fry until crispy on the second side and transfer to plates. (If using ramps, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the ramps over medium heat until crispy on both sides. Divide between the two plates.)
When the water boils, turn heat down so that the water is barely simmering — small bubbles should barely break the surface. Crack one egg into a small dish or mug and slide it into the water. Quickly do the same with the second egg. Set the timer for 3 and 1/2 minutes. The eggs whites will look shredded, but that's OK. Make sure the water maintains no more or no less than barely breaking bubbles.
While the eggs cook, toss the arugula with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the arugula atop the quinoa cakes.
When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to scoop one egg out of the water. Tilt the spoon so the liquid drains completely off, then place the egg on top of the arugula. Repeat with the second egg. Top eggs with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of black pepper each. Serve immediately.