January 4, 2012

Listen, it’s time for some quinoa patties.  You know, quinoa—the super-grain that’s been having its moment in the sun for quite some time now?  We at my house are quite obsessed with it; I buy giant 10-lb. bags of organic quinoa at Costco more frequently than you might imagine.

My mom is the one who turned me on to quinoa.  She fell in love with it to such an extent that she even adapted many Indian recipes that normally call for rice to be made with the nutty grain.  When you think about how committed we South Asians are to our rice, this is saying something.

2012 is shaping up to be a big year for my mom; she turns sixty-five this year, which means she can retire from her long and successful career as a special education teacher.  She is planning to put her house on the market this spring, and when it sells, move down here to Houston.

My parents and I moved into said house when I was a mere eighteen months old—apparently I scared the dickens out of mom by hiding in the empty kitchen cabinets while she unpacked!  I also remember laying down on a pallet of blankets in the hallway that connects the kitchen and dining room, because my mom was up late cooking and, sleepy as I was, I didn’t want to miss anything.  That house has seen countless giggling girl sleepovers, hosted huge Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day feasts, watched me do hours of homework (and spend a near-equal amount of hours on the phone—remember how much we used to talk on the phone?), and was the last place I saw my father alive, happy, and vibrant.  There’s so much memory and meaning wrapped up in that house that the idea of my mom not living there anymore is a little hard to wrap my mind around.

Thing is, I want my mom not to live there anymore; her moving has been the plan for the last five or so years, and I am so ready for her to live down the street from me and Jill so I can see her EVERY. DAMN. DAY.  It’s just a little bit wild to realize that something I’ve imagined and thought about happening somewhere off in the future is here now.

Whatever milestones you are anticipating this year, or the ones that may crop up and surprise you, I wish everyone a very prosperous and peaceful year!  If you need a little break from heavy holiday foods, give these quinoa patties a try—they’re awfully good for you and surprisingly delicious.


adapted from 101 Cookbooks

I gave my quinoa patties a Southwestern twist, but the original recipe calls for kale instead of beans, feta instead of queso fresco, and completely different herbs.  You can make all kinds of changes/substitutions to these patties; as long as you get to the right consistency in the end, they should cook up well and taste great.

Once cooled, the patties will keep for several days in the fridge and for 2-3 months in the freezer–so great for when you need a healthy dinner but don’t feel like cooking!


2 cups quinoa, cooked, which will yield about 2 ½ cups once cooked (I like to cook my quinoa in broth for added flavor)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cooked black beans
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup minced onion (I love red, but if you don’t, use yellow or white)
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until translucent.  Set aside to cool.  Combine the quinoa, eggs, beans, bread crumbs, cilantro, cumin, & salt.  Mix well before adding the cooled onion and garlic.  Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before gently adding in the cheese.

Your mixture should, at this point, be wet enough to clump together in your hands but dry enough to have some structure.  If you need to, adjust the consistency by adding more bread crumbs or another egg.  You can also use flour, water, or broth.  Err on the moist side, as this will prevent your patties from becoming too dry when cooked.

You can cook the patties one of two ways—in the oven or in a skillet.  I’ve tried both ways; the pan allowed for more browning, but the oven makes it easier to cook a large batch.

For the oven, heat to 400°.  Form the patties to your desired size, making each one about 1-inch thick.  Use a little olive oil to grease the baking sheet before sliding the patties into the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes on one side, then flip and bake another 5 minutes to brown the other side.

In the skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat.  Add as many patties as you can fit and still be able to flip them—cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms have browned.  Flip the patties and cook for another 7-8 minutes on the other side.

We served our patties with some sliced avocado and sour cream.



  1. I also have many fond memories of that house, particularly watching Disney movies in the playroom and trying to read everything stuck on your bedroom walls. And yes, there was a lot of phone time. So happy your wonderful mom will be (geographically) close to you soon. And oh yeah, those patties look yummy!

    Comment by Mnelle — January 4, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

  2. Lovely blog. Thanks for the recipe. Your family home looks great and I hope the move went well.
    All the best.

    Comment by Elizabeth — September 19, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

  3. @Elizabeth – thank you so much for the good wishes! I apologize for the long delay in my response – I thought I had posted a comment back in September, but it doesn’t appear to have gone through. I appreciate your readership and hope you enjoyed the recipe!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — November 20, 2014 @ 10:14 am

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