Oh man. So here’s a thing about me — I am really, really clumsy. Like, if I were a candy bar, I’d be this one. And if I were an idiom, I’d be a bull in a china shop. Sometimes I think it amazes Bowl #2 — who does everything thoughtfully and deliberately and un-clumsily — how little sense I have of space and time and, you know, where my body is. (It amazes me too.)
And I’ve been on a roll lately! I don’t know if I’ve just been really out of it from a few long weeks at work, but I am a bull in the china shop of life these days. Yesterday I was slicing a chicken breast and overturned the cutting board into a sink full of dirty dishes. A few weeks ago, B2 had to play ceramics doctor on a beloved Akiko Graham plate after I broke it and almost had a heart attack, and this weekend I spilled an entire ink bottle all over the table, myself, and the floor in the middle of addressing our wedding invites. I don’t even know. But all’s well that ends well — thanks to B2’s magic, the plate is as good as new (can you even tell?!) and thanks to Jesus, the ink missed our wedding invites (and our white couch, ohmygosh) and our first batch of invites actually made it into the mail this morning! We finally mailed (some of) our invites! Small miracles.
(I don’t know what to say about the chicken. Or my ink-stained legs, which currently look diseased. But otherwise, miracles!)
A good friend of mine introduced these quinoa patties to me sometime last summer and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Getting together with her and her boyfriend is always such a treat (and makes me wonder why they’re not the ones with a food blog!) because not only do they love food just as much as I do, they’re amazing cooks, and every time I see them I come away with something I desperately need the recipe for. A New Year’s dinner with them last year resulted in this addictive sesame-miso dressing, and this last dinner, it was these gems. (And I only splatted one egg on the floor when I made them myself!)
These quinoa cakes are elegantly simple and so delicious — they’re made with little more than a hefty dose of Parmesan, some swiftly sauteed Swiss chard, and a couple of eggs to hold it all together. They’re vegetarian, but the cheese, naturally savory chard, and a dash of cumin give them a surprisingly “meaty” (sorry, is that a gross word for anyone else?) umami quality, especially crisped up in the pan. The egg (you know, whatever’s not on the floor) lends a satisfying staying power that I don’t always find with quinoa-based dishes, and the garlic yogurt on top adds a fun, sour-cream-y piquancy to the whole thing. I think these are delicious on their own, but they’re also fantastic over salad with a little buttermilk ranch, and I can imagine they’d be perfect in a veggie burger (though they’re gluten-free as is!) I’ve been freezing them in two’s and three’s to take to work, and they’re as exciting, flavorful, and not-sad of a desk lunch I could ask for.
Also! I fried these up in my new favorite thing — this Lodge seasoned steel skillet! Lodge cast iron has been my true love for ages, and their traditional cast-iron skillet is my go-to for cinnamon rolls, bread rolls, baked oatmeal, perfectly golden pancakes, et cetera, et cetera ad infinitum. But then I tried this seasoned steel skillet and it totally changed my world. It has all the things I love about my cast-iron skillet — quick, oven-safe heat, a slick non-stick seasoning, the ability to crisp up food like no one’s business — but without the heft that makes cast-iron unwieldy. I’m pretty sure it’s virtually indestructible, meaning you’ll be okay if you drop it like I’ll probably do a bunch of times, and it’s so much lighter weight that I won’t lose any toes if (when) I do.
And best of all, the wonderful folks at Lodge are giving away one more skillet! To enter, just leave a comment below with your favorite thing to make in Lodge cookware. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and ends next Wednesday, January 28 at 11:59 PM EST. Yay! This giveaway has closed and the winner is Heather B.! Yay, Heather! I hope you love the skillet!!
adapted from Martha Rose Shulman for the NY Times via my awesome friends Sam & AJ! Since it's a little late for Swiss chard season, feel free to substitute with kale or collards.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, preferably red or white (about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 4 cups chopped Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated (alternatively, kale or collards with ribs removed)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 large eggs (or 3, for cakes that hold their shape more when cooked)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or 2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/8 tsp pepper (or to taste)
- additional oil for frying
- to serve:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pureed
- To cook the quinoa: first, rinse the quinoa in a fine metal sieve to reduce bitterness. Bring 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the quinoa, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for about 12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté the chard. Heat the garlic and oil in a large wok or saucepan over medium heat until the garlic begins to crackle. Add the chard leaves only, reserving the stems, and sauté until dark green and soft, seasoning as desired with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves and sauté the stems with a bit of water over medium heat until soft. Set aside and let cool.
- Once all ingredients are cool, place the cooked quinoa, cooked chard, Parmesan, and cumin in a large bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add eggs and mix again until well-combined. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Form handfuls of the quinoa mixture into patties. Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a cast-iron, seasoned steel, or other nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add a few patties, leaving room for flipping, and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Reduce heat as necessary to keep from burning. Repeat until all the patties are done.
- To make the garlic yogurt, stir pureed garlic into yogurt and serve, or briefly panfry minced garlic until crisp and mix in -- either works well. I fried a little extra garlic for topping, too.
I increased the number of eggs from Martha's recipe because I found that it helped the patties to keep their shape and liked the extra protein boost it gives them. They're still a little tricky to cook and may fall apart -- if you're having trouble, try adding a tablespoon or two of cornstarch, or even another egg. You can also try making smaller patties, cooking longer before flipping the patty, and flipping only once.