When Thanksgiving Day rolls around, being a vegetarian means you don’t get to partake in the star of the meal, the turkey! However, there are usually plenty of vegetarian sides to (over) indulge in that don’t leave you hungry. Who can resist a hearty heaping of staple sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, buttery rolls and this year’s vegetarian special at my fiance’s family’s house, an eggplant and squash bake…delicious! Still, missing out on the turkey means you skip out on your protein intake for that meal..but it’s Thanksgiving dinner after all and food-pyramid-appropriate eating is really NOT the point!
So how do vegetarians get their protein intake on a normal meal day? Indian vegetarian cooking makes use of lots of lentils and beans which are high in protein. Tofu is a great source of protein and can be prepared in many delicious ways. This post however, is about the super food, Quinoa. It is an ancient whole grain that provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is cooked like rice and tastes great with some simple seasonings.
This past weekend, I made a quinoa and vegetable patty flavored with Italian spices like basil, oregano and parsley. To add some richness to the dish, I decided to make a mushroom thyme sauce to top the patty. The addition of mushrooms makes this dish a double dose of protein and flavor!
I didn’t use egg in this preparation which resulted in a patty that barely held together during the cooking process. My recommendation is to use egg or some other binding agent to yield a firmer patty. You can also add any of your favorite beans like black beans or chickpeas to increase the protein value and to hold the patty together. Just mash them up before adding to the mix. Quinoa is a versatile grain that tastes wonderful with an endless variety of spices. Try a Mexican themed patty with cumin and chipotle or spice it up with some garam masala for an Indian flavor!
Quinoa and vegetable patties
Makes 6 patties
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 carrot, grated (1/2 cup)
1 zucchini, grated (1/2 cup)
1 potato, cooked and mashed (I cheated and used leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes!)
OR 1 small sweet potato, grated (1/2 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven on to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the patty so that they come together and hold their shape when formed into patties. Cook the patties on a skillet for a couple of minutes on each side so that the outsides crisp up. Transfer the cooked patties to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes to allow them to cook through. While the patties are cooking in the oven, make the mushroom sauce.
1/4 onion diced finely
1/2 cup mushrooms roughly chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2-1 cup vegetable stock depending on how thick you want your sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan and when frothy, add diced onions. Cook onions for a few minutes till they are translucent. Add the mushrooms, stir and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Allow the mushrooms to cook for a few minutes and release their juices. Lower the heat and add 1/4 cup of vegetable stock and allow the mushrooms to cook down. Add the flour to the mushroom-onion mixture and stir to distribute the flour evenly. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the milk. Let the sauce thicken up and turn off the heat before adding parmesan cheese to the sauce.
To serve, plate a quinoa patty and top with mushroom sauce. Serve alongside your favorite vegetable side!