Buffalo Quinoa Bites

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.

vegetarian quinoa buffalo bites
Buffalo Quinoa Bites

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.

vegetarian quinoa buffalo bites
Buffalo Quinoa Bites

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

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 egg

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

Directions

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.

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Beans Bourguignon

The classic dish Beef Bourguignon gets a makeover to turn it into a vegetarian delight.

beans bourguignon 1

I am so fortunate to have a child who loves good food and is eager to try everything and anything. In fact, the more gourmet or exotic the better. After recently hearing a classmates speech on how animals are treated in the name of fast food, my daughter decided to become a vegetarian and is now discovering new foods and new food combinations.

One new recipe I tried had her smiling as the smell of simmering onions, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary filled the house. I stumbled upon a recipe for beans bourguignon in the Vegetarian Cooking cookbook by the Culinary Institute of America and knew it was right up her alley. The recipe uses kidney beans in place of the traditional beef and so I decided to try it last week. The dish came together quickly, the flavours were rich, and it was a big hit at the dinner table.

The original recipe is cooked in a short time on the stove top and while I chose to start it that way, I switched it to the slow cooker for a few hours to allow the flavours extra time to fully develop. I also omitted the flour to make the recipe gluten-free (it wasn’t necessary in the end). As always, be sure to use high quality ingredients for the best results: select a good red wine and high quality tomatoes.

This recipe is a keeper for us.

The recipe posted below includes my modifications (removing the flour and the tempeh ) and has instructions for using the slow cooker. The original recipe can be found here.

BEANS BOURGUIGNON 

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups kidney beans, cooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, carrots, and garlic, and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 3–4 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they start to become tender, about 4–5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, tomatoes, broth, and half of the wine.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20–25 minutes.
  5. Add the rest of the wine, beans, salt, and pepper. Continue to simmer until good flavor develops, about 10–15 minutes more. Remove and discard the herbs and bay leaf.

Recipe adapted from Culinary Institute of America.

*My slow cooker steps: follow the directions through steps 1-3, adding all the wine at step 3. Bring the ingredients to a boil then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low until the vegetables are tender, about 4-6 hours (depending on your slow cooker). Add the beans about 1 hour before serving and season to taste. Remove the herbs and bay leaf before serving.

Curried Quinoa Cakes

Curried quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper sauce and sweet potato mash.
Curried quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper sauce and sweet potato mash.

Our family has always tried to eat vegetarian at least one day per week. It wasn’t what many call Meatless Monday because in our house it was typically a Tuesday night, but it was almost always some kind of pasta dish. My kids aren’t big vegetable fans but that is slowly changing, and partly in an effort to encourage them, I’ve recently committed to trying a vegetarian diet through the week. I’m hopeful that by setting an example and eating a variety of vegetables in different ways, it will make them willing to try vegetables a little more often.

Last night’s vegetarian dinner was curried quinoa cakes on sweet potato mash, topped with a roasted red pepper sauce. I looked at a few different quinoa cake recipes but inspired by my love of curry, I finally decided to try an adapted version of this one from Vegetarian Times. I made a few changes to make it gluten-free, account for food allergies, and to customize it to our tastes. In the end, even my meat-and-potatoes husband liked them. In fact, I loved them so much, I crumbled half of one cake into my egg white omelette this morning and it was a fabulous savoury start to my day.

CURRIED QUINOA CAKES

makes 6 cakes

1 large egg

2 Tbsp brown rice flour

1 1/2 tsp almond butter

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

1/2 cup grated sweet potato

3/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped cashews

3 Tbsp finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp curry powder

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine egg, flour, almond butter, and vinegar. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 6 cakes and bake 25 minutes, turning them over once during the cooking process, or until lightly browned.

Optional: Serve with roasted red pepper sauce. I chose to roast my own peppers on the BBQ last night rather than use a jarred product. I used two large peppers: preheat BBQ to high. Place clean, dry peppers directly on grill and cook until skin blisters and chars, turning peppers frequently to ensure they are evenly grilled. Remove them from the grill, and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap while you prepare the rest of the recipe (10 to 15 minutes). This will help loosen the skin. Peel skin from peppers. Cut peppers in half to core and remove seeds. Chop peppers and proceed with original recipe.

Roasted red peppers on the grill
Roasted red peppers on the grill