Allow me to introduce my friend quinoa – a versatile, delicious and nutty grain.  If y’all have already met, don’t worry, you’re about to get re-acquainted in a whole new way.

Uncooked Red QuinoaIf you want to mix it up at dinner, Quinoa (pronounced kee-no-ah if you’re me, or keen-wa if you’re my mom) is an excellent healthy alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes. It contains tons of protein and vitamins! I buy my quinoa in bulk and throw it into the dinner rotation at least once a month.  Until now, my fav recipes have been pilaf or salad style (both excellent recipes to try out if you are just getting started with quinoa).

 

Quinoa originates from South America and there are three main varieties: red, black and white.  I’ve tried all three and personally I prefer the little bit of nuttiness and pepperyness of the red one, or you can make a medley of all three. Quinoa contains naturally occuring compounds called saponins that act as a pesticide, so pro tip: you’ll want to rinse your quinoa prior to cooking.

 

Always scouting for new recipe ideas, I came across these quinoa burgers on Pinterest (yes, I’m officially obsessed with this awesome inspiration/idea cataloging tool!). As Jason lovingly pointed out, me and veggie pancakes have a love-hate relationship. I love to eat them, but they hate to stay together in the pan for me.  I thought there were going to be issues with these babies because I ended up with more of a lumpy batter than a patty (thus the addition of a bit extra flour in the recipe below).

Red Quinoa Cakes

Low and behold, the quinoa cakes turned out beautifully. Did I mention they were savory and super satisfying? Moist on the inside, with a crispy exterior and even a bit of a burger texture to them thanks to the quinoa grains. We decided these would be best accompanied by a green salad because they are protein and carbs all-in-one! I topped them with a bit of greek yogurt dip (as recommended in the original recipe) and we also snuck in a handful of sweet potato fries that were free with a coupon.

Have you tried quinoa?  What are your favorite ways to prepare it?