After extolling the virtues of 'the mother of grains' in our recipe for Mountain Lodges of Peru's tasty Quinoa Salad, I got to thinking about this extraordinarily nutritious and surprisingly versatile ingredient from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes.
Quinoa has a delicate nutty flavour, perfect for autumn and winter, and is great for adding a subtle touch of the unexpected to a meal as an alternative for rice or couscous. It is also a complete source of protein, gluten-free, and full of fibre, iron, magnesium and phosphorous... making it sound much more boring than it actually is. Either way, whether for health or flavour, this is a grain to be reckoned with.
So anyway, being a bit obsessed both with shallow-frying and stuffing vegetables with things (well, I don't eat meat – I have to get my culinary kicks somewhere) I've come up with two seasonal takes on quinoa: fritters with smoked salmon and a crème fraiche, dill and horseradish dip, and stuffed squash with quinoa, sage, pine nuts and goat's cheese. For a third and very different dish, I've borrowed a great dessert recipe from one of the Journey Latin America team's favourite restaurants in Lima – the incomparable Huaca Pucllana.
QUINOA CAKES WITH CRÈME FRAICHE DIP AND SMOKED SALMON:
Unexpectedly addictive... and healthier than anything fried in this much oil has any right to be.
For the fritters:
- 1 1/2 Cups cooked quinoa (about 150-200g uncooked weight)
- 1 Small or medium onion, diced
- 3 Spring onions, diced
- 3 Medium eggs, beaten
- 75g Breadcrumbs
- 75g Parmesan, grated
- 4 Cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- Olive oil for frying
For the accompaniment:
- 4 Slices of smoked salmon
- 100ml Crème fraiche
- Juice and zest of half a large lemon
- 1 tbsp Horseradish sauce
- 1 tbsp Chopped fresh dill
1. Mix together all the ingredients for the fritters, except the oil (note: only the quinoa needs to be pre-cooked; onions etc can be raw).
2. Prepare the dip by mixing together the crème fraiche, lemon juice and zest, horseradish sauce and dill. Set aside.
3. Fill a frying pan with oil to about 1cm depth, and put the pan over a high heat. Take a reasonably-sized dollop of the fritter mixture and add it to the pan, flattening it out with a spatula until it is around the size and shape of a small burger patty. Repeat for as many fritters as will comfortably fit in the pan.
4. Allow the fritters to brown before flipping and leaving to brown on the other side. Remove from pan and place on a tray of kitchen paper to soak up excess oil. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture.
5. Serve up with a slice of smoked salmon and a spoonful or two of dip.
STUFFED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH QUINOA, SAGE AND GOAT'S CHEESE:
Oven-baked goodness with a comforting autumnal flavour.
- 150g Uncooked quinoa
- 2 Small butternut squashes
- 300g Mushrooms (ideally different kinds), roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Chopped sage leaves
- 200g Goat's cheese, torn/chopped into small pieces
- 100g Gruyère, grated
- 4 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp Pine nuts (optional)
- 40g Breadcrumbs (optional)
- 1 Vegetable stock cube
- Knob of butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
2. Slice the squashes in half lengthways; scoop out and discard the seeds, then pierce the flesh a few times as you would when baking a potato. Place on a baking tray, slather with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on a medium heat for about an hour.
3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa – I rinse it first, toast for a few minutes in a dry frying pan, then cook with 2 cups water to every 1 cup quinoa. Add a cube of vegetable stock to the boiling water during preparation.
4. Fry the garlic, mushrooms and pine nuts in butter, then switch off the heat and add the cooked quinoa, sage and goat's cheese to the pan. Mix well.
5. Once your squashes are baked through, add a generous, overflowing filling of the mixture to each of them (you might need to scoop out some of the flesh, in which case you can add it to the quinoa mixture if desired). Top with the gruyère and finally the breadcrumbs. Roast the stuffed butternut squashes for a further ten minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve hot with a side salad.
QUINOA TUILES FILLED WITH TROPICAL MOUSSE:
An innovative dessert recipe from Huaca Pucllana restaurant in Lima. The original calls for lúcuma, a scrumptious South American fruit – here I suggest passion fruit as an alternative, but you could also try star fruit.
- 50g Butter
- 50g Sugar
- 75g Syrup
- 50g Flour
- 50g Pre-cooked quinoa
- 250g Passion fruit pulp
- 100g Sweetened condensed milk
- 100ml Milk
- 5g Dissolved gelatine
- 125g Whipped cream
1. Melt butter, sugar and syrup together in a pan, then combine the flour. Form tuiles and bake in the oven on a non-sticking baking mat (such as Silpat) at 350°F (about 180°C).
2. In a food processor mix the fruit pulp with milk, condensed milk and gelatine. Pass through a fine sieve. Add whipped cream and mix slowly.
3. Fill the tuiles with the fruit mousse and serve with fresh fruit and chocolate sauce.
Note: Quinoa can be found in some large supermarkets and many health food and specialist food shops, such as Whole Foods. Cook according to pack instructions.