Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Just had a romp through the women's magazines while I waited for my daughter at the pediatric dentist. I am resolved to be slimmer, make better use of my closet space, and get totally invested in date night. Also I am all about quinoa. Well, my children would tell you that is nothing new. Like the lamented chickpea, it is one of those foods that they reflexively express dislike for, even though they eat it pretty happily. But everyone else in the universe seems to be about it now, so my quiet devotion to quinoa no longer has to be a shameful thing for the family.
It looks to me from a scientific survey of the mainstream blog and magazine universes that this is the Age of Quinoa 'n' Cheese. Here it is, baked with chunks of ham. There it is, bright orange with conveniently pre-shredded colby. If it means more people eating quinoa, there probably isn't much to object to in the trend.
Also, they happen to be on to something. What suspect food is not improved with bakey crispy cheese on top? And when I saw the quinoa muffins (and wee little muffinettes) moving in herds across the Great Housewifely Plains, I decided to get a little of that women's mag action here at home.
"Don't think I am fooled by the whole muffin thing," said the Chief Quinoa Skeptic.
Fooled in what way?
"I can see that these are made of quinoa," said the CQS, but by then she had eaten it. And then she ate another. I really wasn't trying to fool anyone, I swear. But I will say I enjoyed the reduced grumbling. They come across like something between a nice, not-at-all dry muffin and an amusingly portable frittata. We ate them hot, with a big messy salad, for dinner, but they look like likely suspects for flinging into a lunch box, too, or onto a brunch table.
Like a frittata or quiche or omelette, they are kind of a blank canvas. I am not sure there is any limitation on what you could add here, so this is another non-recipe recipe. Go hog wild. Suggestions below, but feel free to ignore them.
convincing quinoa flingers
2 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups of coarsely grated cheddar, divided
1 c coarsely grated zucchini (about one 7" zuke)
a generous sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs, like chives or parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray or brush a 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil.
Combine the quinoa, 1 cup of the cheddar, the zucchini, herbs and 3 of the eggs in a medium bowl and mix well. If it seems dry, add the remaining egg. You want a nice thick batter, not soupy but not a dry, clumpy situation. Add a fat pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper. Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese. Bake about 20 minutes, until nicely golden brown, and cool on a rack to ensure cheesy crispiness on the bottoms (they will sog a bit if left to cool in the pan).
Variations on that theme:
Replace the zucchini with shredded baby spinach, or finely chopped, cooked greens like chard or kale. Replace part of the cheddar with some crumbled feta.
Add some cubed & roasted sweet potatoes, drained black beans and a handful of chopped cilantro.
Roasted or sauteed red onion would be tasty with smoked cheddar or gouda, and a fat pinch of cumin.
Use mozzarella, or a smoky scamorza, and some chopped roasted or dried tomatoes, and a handful of chopped fresh basil.
Pig out: crumbled bacon, slivers of ham, cooked sausage....oh, you get the idea.