It’s fall, my favourite season. There are so many reasons to love the fall…cool, crisp air, warm sweaters, cozy fires, and of course, the fall colours. Then there’s the food. After months of grilling meats, tossing salads, picnic lunches, and sunny dinners on the deck, it’s time to switch gears and enjoy dishes and flavours that warm the soul and celebrate the season.
After a summer of indulgence, my daughter recently decided to become a pescatarian. She spent one year as a vegetarian in the past, but found the diet challenging and gave it up at the beginning of the summer. Now, with steak season come and gone, she’s decided to clean her diet up once again, this time allowing herself fish and seafood to help keep enough protein in her diet (made more of a challenge during the school year given schools here don’t allow peanut or other nut products in school lunches). Her only reservation was having to give up some of her favourite foods, especially her Friday night favourite, Buffalo wings. Or so she thought.
One of her favourite Buffalo recipes are Buffalo chicken quinoa bites. There are a lot of different versions of the same recipe out there (you can search the internet for them), but all of these little flavour bundles are packed with quinoa, chicken, and cheese. Serve them with a little Ranch dip on the side, and they are a great substitution for Buffalo wings. Thankfully, with a few changes, I was able to make a vegetarian version that would pack a good protein punch for my daughters school lunches, while still giving her the Buffalo wing flavour she craves.
Using the inspiration of the typical carrot and celery stick side dish for restaurant wings, I substituted grated carrot for the standard shredded chicken. I also switched out the bread crumbs for quinoa flakes in an effort to add put more protein to the recipe, and served the bites with a yogurt Ranch dip. Success! And a very tasty one at that. At least this is one dish my daugther won’t have to sacrifice in order to stick to her new diet/lifestyle.
BUFFALO QUINOA BITES
makes 12 bites
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup Frank’s Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
S&P to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
Divide mixture evenly into well-greased mini muffin pan. Be sure to fill each cup completely and press the mixture down to compact (this will help hold them together and make removing them from the pan easier).
Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Serve with your favourite Ranch dressing or dip.