Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sweet Potato Quinoa Fritters

It finally got me.  The flu.  You hear in the news about how it's spreading so badly this year, but I just assumed I'd be OK.  There I stood in my coworker's office last week, telling her how great it is that I don't get sick as frequently as I used to. That was my downfall.  Two days later, I made it through only a morning of work before I was forced to go home to my couch.  Thankfully it was a fairly mild strain, and I was back in action soon enough.  

While I hated feeling crappy and missing work and social engagements, the silver lining was that it forced me to slow down.  I read a new book, caught up on my DVR, and took lots of naps.  One day when I was feeling especially energetic I made myself lunch.  I find that lunch is such a luxurious meal to eat at home because so frequently you grab a bite on the run, sit at your desk and keep working while you eat, or are out at a restaurant.  When you actually have time to fix yourself something healthy and eat it right away, not reheated two days later, and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home, lunch can be an incredibly enjoyable meal.

When I lived in Spain, we'd return home during siesta each afternoon, eat lunch with our host family, take a nap, and then continue about our day.  Each day had an amazing rhythm and allowed you to enjoy even a weekday lunch.

On this day that would have been glorious had I not been ill, I made myself one of my favorite quick dishes - sweet potato quinoa fritters.  They're full of protein and nutrition and incredibly tasty.  And you can serve them any number of ways. They're great plain and sprinkled with sea salt, or you could squirt them with some fresh lemon juice and top them with plain yogurt or sour cream.  They're great cold or reheated.  And like so many things, they'd be awesome leftover with a poached egg on top!

To make the fritters, you'll need quinoa, a small sweet potato, eggs, breadcrumbs, green onion, feta cheese, and canola oil.

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover quinoa you may have in the fridge.  I always say I'm going to make a big batch at the beginning of the week to use in salads and as a side dish, but rarely take the initiative.  If you're more on the ball than I am, then you already have cool quinoa to use.  If not, put 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and fluffy.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the green onions by chopping them finely and peel and grate the sweet potato.

Once the quinoa is cooked, set it aside to cool slightly.  Stirring it will help some of the heat leave more quickly.  Then, in a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, along with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Now it's time to cook the fritters.  In a large frying pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Once it's hot and the oil is shimmering, drop about 3 tablespoons of the quinoa mixture onto the pan to form one fritter.  It's important to wait until the oil is hot, or else the fritters will just absorb all the oil, and no one needs that.

Cook the fritters on this side for 3-4 minutes, or until they're nice and browned.  It helps to turn them halfway through so that they brown evenly; you can lift up a corner with a spatula to check for brown-ness.  Then flip!  Carefully, so that you don't splash yourself with oil.

Once they're evenly browned on each side, take them out of the pan and let them drain on some paper towel.  

And that's it!  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Fritters
Adapted from Canelle et Vanille

1 cup uncooked or 3-4 cups cooked quinoa
1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (toast a slice of gluten free bread and blend in food processor to make this meal gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste 
Canola oil for frying

Cook quinoa according to package, if necessary. Set aside to cool.  

In large bowl, mix together all ingredients except oil and stir lightly to combine.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons canola oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Drop 3 tablespoons of quinoa mixture onto pan to form one fritter; continue to fill pan.  Cook on each side 3-4 minutes or until browned.  Set on paper towel to drain.  Enjoy immediately.

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