Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An experiment with quinoa...

We're always looking for vegetarian inspiration: pasta and other "staples" can get a bit boring.  When I saw the recipe for quinoa veggie-balls on the Small Boston Kitchen (if you are not following it, you should be!) I bookmarked it for later, and later happened to be the most recent Meatless Monday!

I have not had or cooked with quinoa yet, so I was excited to see what all the hype was about.  I mean, nutritiously-speaking, it puts other grains to shame.  I was hoping I was going to really like this!

The Necessities...
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 large button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 bag of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Ingredients...

First things first, I got the quinoa cooking according to the directions on the box, chopped the onions and mushrooms and got them sauteing.

Mushrooms and Onions
Meanwhile, I chopped up the pepper...

Red Pepper
and the spinach...

Once the mushrooms were done softening/browning - about 5 minutes - I added it to a bowl and placed the spinach into the same frying pan, cooking it until it also softened (and turned that bright green) - about 3 minutes.  I added the red pepper and the spinach to the same bowl with the mushrooms and onions.

Veggie ball goodness
At Whole Foods, the pine nuts seemed really pricey, so I used chopped walnuts as they were much cheaper.  I went ahead and added those to the same bowl as well as the crushed red pepper (giving the bowl an extra shake), the oregano, the rosemary, and a little salt and pepper.

More stuffing
Then I got to mixing it all up...

Once the quinoa had cooled a bit, I added it to the mixture along with an egg...

and combined it all some more.  I formed the mixture into balls and placed them on a cookie sheet that was covered in tin foil - this mixture made about 11 veggie balls.  Finally, I took the remaining egg and whisked it together with some water to form an egg wash, which I used to coat each veggie-ball.  A slight problem here: we did not have a brush in our kitchen so I went with the pouring method, which did not work out as well! (We made a trip to Target this weekend, and the brush situation was rectified.)

In the oven
I put the sheet into a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes until the veggie-balls browned.  Mine were not browning as nicely as I was hoping, but that may have had something to do with the poor egg washing.

For dinner we decided to make sandwiches/subs rather than using over pasta. 

Extras for subs
I cute the rolls open and put some of the shredding mozzarella inside and slid the roll with the cheese in the oven, allowing the roll to toast and some of the cheese to melt.  Once melted I added the veggie-balls, topped with a bit more cheese, and put back into the oven until the cheese was fully melted.

Yummy Dinner
I was really happy with how these came out.  To be honest I had no idea what to expect, but seeing how all this worked, I am looking forward to experimenting with quinoa again!


  1. NICE! These have been on my list to make for a while as well- they look delicious- especially for your first use of Quinoa!

  2. They sound great, actually! I'd be interested to try them.

  3. Still haven't made anything with Quinoa. Nice to see you took the plunge with one of SBKs fantastic recipes!

  4. I've been wanting to make these too but haven't gotten around to it. Love how you put them in subs!

    Sometimes the back of a spoon or even a rubber spatula can be used for egg washing... but now that you have a brush, you'll be good to go!


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