It’s national Meat Free Week!
If you listen carefully you can hear my family groaning at the prospect of vegetarian and vegan meals for a whole week. Not even a whole week actually, just Monday to Friday. And not even all the meals, just dinners! These were the compromises I had to put in place to stop them packing up and moving out for the week (which I’m now not so sure why I was opposed to) while I go the whole hog and enjoy a proper week of lessening my environmental impact and focusing on plant-based dishes – something that both people and the environment can benefit from. Now I’m not vegan but I could be for my love of vegetables (but not so because of my love of cheese), however the family aren’t quite so….enthusiastic…about veggies so I set about creating some new meat-free recipes that will keep them happy (read: only a resigned sigh and the occasional grimace).
I also have been asked by the wonderful people at KeenWah – purveyors of certified organic quinoa that doesn't need to be rinsed before cooking – to do some recipe development for them and this seemed the perfect opportunity. Many people worry about getting enough protein on a vegetarian/vegan diet but there is no reason plant-based or meat-free diets can’t satisfy daily protein requirements if some care is put into making smart food choices. This is where quinoa comes in – it’s a complete protein (usually only a feature of animal products) and is rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8g of protein, 5 grams of fibre, 15% of the recommended daily intake of iron and 20% of the recommended daily intake of folate. It’s also gluten-free and low GI - not bad for a tiny seed that’s been floating around South America for centuries.
These patties contain my solution to all of life’s problems – cheese. I used aged cheddar but a
creamy Colby or even cottage cheese would be just fine. You could also add some chunks of feta or some grated parmesan to up the cheese factor – something I think all of us can and should aspire to. They get other pops of flavour from the spring onion and garlic chives, and are rounded off perfectly when served with a dollop of sour cream and a big splash of sweet chili sauce.
You can cook the patties fresh (without chilling in the fridge) but they will be slightly more delicate
so be careful if you are frying them that you flip them very gently. I tried both baked and fried
versions and loved them both; I also made mini cakes that would be perfect as finger food for a
party or little hands/mouths. You could also make the mix the night before, chill in the fridge
overnight and then serve for brunch with poached eggs and smoked salmon – so many possibilities! Luckily all of them are delicious so you’ll have no shortage of tasty, nutritious, meat-free ideas. If your family will let you.
Potato and Quinoa Cakes
Makes 12 large or 36 small
2 large potatoes
½ cup milk
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 spring onions
½ bunch of garlic chives
1 ½ cups grated cheese
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1) Boil, steam or microwave potatoes until tender. Mash with the milk, don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth.
2) Add quinoa, spring onion, chives and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix until well
combined, then stir through the grated cheese.
3) Shape mixture into 12 patties (approximately 1/3 cup worth of mixture each) and place on a lined tray in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
4) Heat the olive oil in a non-stick fry pan and once it’s hot add the patties. Fry for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and fry on the other side (they need to form a crust so be careful not to flip them too early – otherwise they’ll just fall apart). Drain on absorbent paper.
5) Alternatively bake the patties on a lined tray at 200⁰C for 20-55 minutes or until golden, flipping half way through the cooking time.
6) Serve immediately with sour cream, sweet chili sauce and a large garden salad.
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