I like food that triggers emotion. The nostalgia a slice of good, crusty bread evokes within me, transporting me back to the magnificent bakeries of Bern. The tango of crunchy, creamy, salty, and sweet of a Greek salad, winking at you with all its healthy colours screaming “Eat me! I’m good for you!” Or the guilty decadence that comes with eating something rich and chocolatey, the guilt that over the years of consumption has turned into pleasure with a hint of satisfaction. Quinoa did none of these things to me. On the rare occasion I’d be eating it I’d question it’s validity, how serious this grain was about its super powers, because in all due respect, taste-wise, it gave me nothing.
However, being the flexitarian that I am, it seemed almost ridiculous not to give it and its complete protein and minerals a fifth chance. Apparently, we all seem to need more quinoa in our lives, so who am I to argue. Even though I’m incredibly hesitant to hop on that superfood bandwagon everyone’s been going nuts about, because, you know, it’s not really my style. I don’t follow trends. I will not admit defeat, I’m too proud. But I will admit that I’m still getting over how good these little suckers taste.
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Patties
1 medium sweet potato
2 fat garlic cloves, unpeeled
½ cup quinoa
1 bay leaf
pinch of cinnamon
vegetable stock granules, or salt, for purists
1 Tbsp white miso
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Chop the sweet potato into 2cm cubes, and place them into the baking tray, tossing them with a glug of olive oil, and finishing with a sprinkling of salt. Wrap the two garlic cloves in aluminium foil and pop next to the sweet potato cubes. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
In the meantime, soak the quinoa in ¾ cup water in a saucepan for 15 minutes. Add the bay leaf and cinnamon and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, then cover and let steam until all the liquid has evaporated and the grains are nice and fluffy.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan until they’ve all puffed up. Let them cool, than whizz them up to a fine powder in a blender. Stop before they turn into a paste.
To assemble, remove the bay leaf from the quinoa. Add the mashed sweet potato, the ground pumpkin seeds, the miso and as little or as much vegetable stock granules or salt as you think is right. Give it all a nice good stir, then, with wet hands, form into patties. Heat a frying pan with a splash of olive oil and fry those cuties until golden on each side. Done. I usually have them with some crumbled feta and a few chopped parsley leaves, sometimes even a fried egg. Best breakfast ever.
If you don’t feel like cooking them all at once, they’ll keep in the fridge for a few days.