Quinoa, the virtuously healthy uber-grain* popular among the healthful crowd, takes on new characteristics when sautéed until it starts to crisp. These golden fritters are nubby, nutty, and endlessly customizable. Here, they include chopped arugula or spinach, shallots, and Pecorino Romano, but other vegetables, herbs, and cheeses can be substituted as you like. The patties can be a bit fragile, like a well-made crab cake, so I included the step to refrigerate them before cooking to help them hold together a bit better; however, if you have a ring mold (or a biscuit cutter), you can skip the refrigeration and place the mold on the flat lifting surface of an offset spatula (like something you would use to flip pancakes), fill the mold with the quinoa mixture and pack it in tightly, then use the spatula to transfer the whole shebang to the pan and gently slide it in, then remove the mold and continue with cooking. They hold together much better this way.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 patties)
2 packed cups (70 ounces or 2 1/2 g) of chopped baby arugula (or baby spinach)
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces or 40 g) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
One medium shallot, minced
Three large eggs, beaten
Scant 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Two large cloves garlic, minced
2 2/3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled to room temp
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Using your hands, mix all ingredients except oil together in a large bowl until evenly mixed.
2. Form mixture into 8 hamburger-like patties (use either your hands or a ring mold- really pack it tightly if using a ring mold/biscuit mold, and they’ll hold together much better) and place in a single layer on a large plate or cutting board. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. In a large skillet, heat a quarter inch of olive oil over medium high. Once the oil is hot, turn down to medium/medium-low and cook the patties until the underside is a deep golden brown, about five minutes. Flip and repeat on the opposite side. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches to not crowd the fritters and have room to maneuver. You may need to replenish the olive oil in the pan between batches.
4. Remove fritters to a plate. Serve immediately.