The summer I was 18, I moved to Seattle to work on a voter registration campaign with six friends. We lived in a three bedroom apartment in the U district. Our only pieces of furniture were our seven air mattresses, a folding camp chair, and a desk we scrounged up off the side-walk. We also hung some maps on the wall, which I’m sure made us look more than a little suspicious–not that anyone was looking.
For some reason, we decided that we needed to cook and eat every dinner together for an entire summer. We paired up in twos–each pair got responsibility for a night–and designed giant weekly grocery lists for things you could cook in very large pots. This is not the pathway to either domestic harmony or good cooking. That may be one of the most valuable lessons I learned the year I was 18.
Almost no dishes stand out from the pots of spaghetti and beans that we ate that summer (although there was a pasta with sausage and peppers that I would happily eat again any day of the week), but I do remember my first encounter with quinoa.
It didn’t go well. One friend described it as looking like tiny, unrolled condoms–an image that is so accurate it is forever in my mind when I eat quinoa. More importantly, it tasted boring and kind of bitter.
Subsequent encounters with quinoa did not change my first impression. This was probably because it kept showing up at cafeterias, brown bag lunches, or picnics–basically whenever people are trying to feed large quantities of people–and it was always mixed with some sort of dried fruit or canned beans and feta.
But here’s the thing, quinoa kept showing up in these settings for the same reason we ate it during my summer in Seattle. You can easily make a lot of it.
I’ve been making quinoa lately not because I need to feed seven, but because I can make a lot of it on Sunday and eat it for lunch for the rest of the week. One of the best things about making quinoa for a week of lunches is it can change forms as the week goes on. For example, quinoa patties have become one of my favorite things.
Basically any bowl of leftover quinoa can be mixed with eggs, some binding agent (I like almond flour for a gluten-free patty, others use bread crumbs), a leafy green or a bunch of herbs, and baked or pan fried into a delicious and highly portable lunch.
I’ve made a lot of quinoa with pesto over the last year and it always transforms beautifully into patties. This week, I decided to try this recipe for Japanese quinoa from Chocolate and Zucchini. I ate it with hardboiled eggs for the first part of the week and then switched over to turning it into asian style quinoa patties at the end of the week.
Usually I eat my quinoa patties straight or on top of a bed of vegetables, but, since this was Asian style quinoa, I decided to dress them with a quick miso-mayonaise dressing. It made the whole lunch seem a little decadent, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing on a Wednesday.
Asian-Style Quinoa Patties with Miso Mayonnaise:
Note: Since this is a recipe for leftovers, I’m doing it for one patty, but you can scale it up easily for as much quinoa as you have leftover. If you scale it up enough it becomes worth baking the patties, but for lunch for one I find it easier to pan fry.
– 2/3 cup leftover quinoa from Chocolate and Zucchini recipe.
– 1 egg.
– 1/4-1/3 cup almond meal.
For Miso Mayonnaise Dressing:
– 2: 1 ratio of mayonnaise and miso paste.
– Splash of vinegar.
– Chili powder to taste.
* Mix all patty ingredients together in a bowl.
* Heat oil in pan.
* Press quinoa mixture down into patty in pan. Cook until crisp and brown on one side and then flip.
* In the meantime mix together miso, mayonnaise, chili powder and vinegar.
* Serve finished patty on bed of vegetables (I used tomatoes one day and leftover green beans the next) with miso-mayonnaise.