I watch a lot of Food TV. You’re shocked, right? I watch all my faves: Giada, Alton, Iron Chef, Bitchin’ Kitchen. But I also like the reality ones, like Top Chef. The Canadian version is my fave (hi, Trevor!), but I’ll watch any and all of them. Last week, on Top Chef Masters, Sue Milliken made one of the winning dishes–a skirt steak quesadilla with quinoa fritters. Quinoa Fritters?? Yeah, never heard of them. But you know how obsessed I am right now with quinoa, and I still have that giant Cosco bag in my cupboard, so I got to work.
These are pretty darn good, and with a bit of substitution, could be gluten free. There’s a scant 1/4 cup of flour in the entire recipe, and I imagine if you swapped it out for Amaranth flour, you’d get mostly the same result.
I had no luck finding Cotija cheese, but a quick Google search told me you could substitute any hard, cured, salty cheese, like Parmesan or Romano (which I had). I could also see feta working quite nicely in this.
Part of the reason why these are so tasty is because you dry-roast the quinoa in a frying pan before cooking it. It gives them a wonderful, toasty flavor. Oh–by the way–the boy loved these. Hurray for relatively healthy, child-friendly food!
Quinoa Fritters (Source)
- 2/3 cup quinoa
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup grated Cotija (or Parmesian, Romano, or Feta) cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped (I used chives from garden, because it was what I had on hand)
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped (again, from my garden, yay!)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
- In a regular, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, add the quinoa and toast, shaking and stirring constantly to prevent it from burning, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and replace the frying pan with a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water and then the quinoa, and allow it to come up to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, partially cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover completely, and put on a back burner for an additional 5 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Place in a large bowl and allow to cool, in the fridge for a few minutes if necessary.
- In that same bowl, add to the quinoa, flour, cheese, salt and pepper. Finely chop the scallions and parsley (I used my mezzaluna) and add to the mixture. Finally, add the egg and the egg yolk. Blend thoroughly with a mixing spoon until the mixture has the consistency of a soft dough.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Now comes the hard part. You need to use a technique to make the dough into quenelles. You take two soup spoons and pass the dough back and forth until it’s packed together and creates a little football shape. Check out this YouTube video for help. Slide the fritters carefully! into the hot oil. Fry until the bottoms are golden and brown, then turn and fry the second side until golden. Drain on paper towels, then put them, still warm, into a large, stainless-steel bowl, sprinkle with sea salt, and toss.
- Serve them warm, with salsa, a pesto aioli (which I simply made by mixing a teaspoon of pesto in about a 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and adding a splash of milk) or a spicier aioli which you can make by mixing mayo with a little siracha.