05 September 2013

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Quinoa Patties

Call me Doug, because I'm in love with patties.  It's cool, because the hubs shares the mad Patty love.  I mean, delicious flavors squished together, then pan fried to toasty perfection...what foodie could possibly resist?  We pride ourselves on being equal opportunity eaters and will sample any patty that comes out way, but there is a special little corner of our hearts devoted to quinoa patties.  That delightful little grain has a way of turning out extra delicious and toasty.  So when I had a mad craving for caramelized onions a few weeks ago, I thought I'd give them a go in patty form.  Little did I know I was happening upon the ultimate steak side.  Beef or tofu, this is a winner dinner with paired with your favorite grilled protein.

What else do I love more than caramelized onions?  How about mushrooms?  Just in case we weren't steak-y enough already.  And to keep it real, a little kale....claro.  Any side that sneaks in a serving of vegetables is a welcome addition in our household, but particularly when they are hidden in delicious sweet patties of grilled grains.  And sweet is the key word here, folks.  Those delicious caramelized onions flavor every bite of the patties for a truly scrumptious and rich dish.  The hubs was a bit surprised at how much sweetness came through in this traditionally "savory" dish, but loved it.  It was a great base to play up with a sprinkling of briny feta or capers, or even with a simple squeeze of lemon.

Now of course, you need a few things to hold all those little grains and veggies together.  This is where an egg and.....wait for it....cheese enter the picture!  There is nothing like a bit of parmesan to add a little salt and a lot of binding to your favorite patty.  With the sweet onions and mushrooms, the cheese adds a wonderful salty counterpoint and holds everything together beautifully.  I also like the touch of apple cider vinegar for a bit of fruity brightness.

Look at all those onions peeking out.  More like a roguish wink.  

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Quinoa Patties (serves 3)
inspired by the delightful original of Joy the Baker

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 c quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 c kale, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c parmesan
  • 1/2 c panko
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • additional oil for frying
Begin by caramelizing your onions.  Place a large, thick-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and heat until shimmering, slicing the onion while it heats.  When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion and stir until evenly coated before spreading into a single layer across the bottom of the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium (or even medium low if you have a hot set of burners) and cook the onions, stirring occasionally,  until golden brown, about 45 minutes to an hour.  

While the onions are cooking, prepare your quinoa.  Rise the grains well in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear, then combine in a small pot with the vegetable broth.  Cook according to directions - you want to end up with about 2 cups of cooked quinoa.  Once it has finished cooking, transfer to a glass baking dish (I like pie pan) and spread into a thin layer to cool.  

Wipe and slice your mushrooms.  When the onions are deliciously caramelized, add the diced mushrooms and chopped kale to the pan, increasing the heat to medium if you're cooking on a lower temp.  Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft and the kale is bright and slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.  Clear a spot in the center of the pan and add the garlic, then cook for one additional minute.  Remove all the vegetables to a cutting board and roughly chop any large pieces of onion before transferring all the veggies to the pie dish with the quinoa.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to continue cooling.  (If the quinoa is too hot, it will scramble your egg in the next step!)

In a small bowl, crack the egg and whisk lightly with a fork.  When the quinoa is cool enough to handle, add the apple cider vinegar, beaten egg, parmesan and panko.  Season with pepper and mix until well combined.  Taste and season with salt if needed, but you will likely have enough flavor from the cheese alone.  Form into patties anywhere from 2-3 inches in diameter in the pie dish.  

To cook, re-oil your sauté pan and place over medium-high heat.  Add the patties, leaving an inch or so between each one, and flatten gently with a spatula.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Serve hot, garnished with a squeeze of lemon, feta or capers.  

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