This month's Recipe ReDux theme was about using heirloom kitchen tools - things that were passed down to us and that we love to use on a regular basis. I actually don't have any hand-me-downs in my kitchen (a shame, I know), but I do have some favorite tools I grew up with that I've since purchased for myself - pasta maker, wooden spoons (the only kind of spoons I use!), CrockPot, canner...but I have to say the tool I cook with constantly and could never live without, which comes straight from my childhood, is my trusty cast iron skillet. I love it because it cooks at crazy high temperatures, nothing ever sticks to it, it crisps up protein like nobody's business but then also makes nice creamy sauces, and I can sear fish or whatever in it and then finish cooking them in the oven - and they come out perfect every single time. Love, love my cast iron.
I knew I'd be using the cast iron when creating this month's recipe, but I wanted to do something different than my standby seared salmon filet. I have been planning to try making quinoa burgers, AND it was 70 degrees and sunny on Saturday - a perfect day for "burgers" - so that's how the magic started.
Actually it started with cooked quinoa and a whole mess of fresh veggies. The veggies got sautéed in the skillet with some ghee (clarified butter) and seasonings.
Then those veggies were removed from the pan and tossed with cooked quinoa and some other flavorings and then formed into patties. And then those patties were put right back into the same hot cast iron skillet. See, love this pan - I can use the same one for the whole dish. Single dish cleanup!
Once the patties were cooked, I stored them in a warm oven (in the same pan) to keep warm while Matt and Riker got washed up for dinner. We ate these at the bar with a side of baked carrot fries. It felt like a bar kind of meal.
The patties got topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a simple spicy mayo, slices of fresh avocado and a pile of fresh arugula. I didn't use rolls since the quinoa is already a carb, and honestly - with toppings like that, who needs a roll?
The end result was, in Matt's words, "killer." He must've used that word at least three times. I love that kind of kudos at dinner! The burgers were crunchy on the outside but a little soft in the middle, and you could really taste the sweet carrots and red peppers as well as the sharp, salty parmesan cheese. They were perfection. And if the toppings don't strike your fancy, the burgers would be just as good on a bun with a slice of cheese and some ketchup or sriracha sauce.
I will for sure be making them again and again, with all different flavor combos. I think they'd also be fine frozen and then reheated in the toaster oven, so next time I plan to make a big batch and keep extras in the freezer. My new summer jam!
Quinoa Burgers with Spicy Mayo, Avocado & Arugula
Makes about 7 burgers
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth (if using water, add 1 tsp. salt)
2 tsp. ghee or flavorless oil (like grapeseed)
2 small carrots, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. almond flour
2 Tbsp. ghee or flavorless oil (like grapeseed)
Lemon, Spicy Mayo (below), avocado and arugula for toppings
Cook quinoa in broth or water according to package directions. Set aside.
Bring a cast iron skillet to medium/low heat and add the 2 tsp. ghee. Sautee the carrots, red pepper, onion, garlic, salt and pepper for a few minutes, until softened. Remove the veggies from the pan and place in a large mixing bowl.
To the cooked veggies, add the cooked quinoa, parmesan cheese, eggs and almond flour. Mix well.
Bring the cast iron skillet back up to medium heat and add the 2 Tbsp. ghee. Once the ghee is melted, form the quinoa mixture into patties and place immediately in the pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes each side, until golden brown.
Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low temp oven until ready to serve.
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a light spread of spicy mayo (below), slices of fresh avocado and a handful of arugula (with additional lemon if desired).
4 Tbsp. mayo (I use Spectrum Organic Mayo with Cage Free Eggs)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. hot sauce, depending on your spice preference