Waste Not Want Not

Wastefulness was not to be tolerated in my Grandparent’s house.  When preparing chicken cutlets for example, my Grandfather would continue to combine the egg and the breadcrumbs even after the meat was gone.  He would shape them into small, round patties and lightly fry them for a “vegetarian” option.  Once fried to golden perfection he would offer me half with a gentle wink- this was our before dinner reward.

A good working kitchen, prepared to feed any number of guests at any time, demands a bit of thrift. These techniques can be especially useful when you have 60 minutes before an impromptu dinner party and almost nothing in the fridge or pantry.  Finding myself in such a position a few nights ago I was forced to put my food thrift skills to good use.  A quick inventory check yielded the following results: The fridge held 1/2 bag of Arugula and 2 and a half cups of leftover quinoa.  In the pantry, and on the counter, I found some basil and pignola nuts.  Combined with my “always on hand” items, like grated cheese and olive oil, I felt confident that I had everything I needed to make some patties of my own.

Arugula Pesto Quinoa Patties

Makes about 15 patties 

For the Pesto

1/2 bag or about three cups Arugula (you could also sub spinach)

3/4 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup toasted pignola nuts

1/2 cup grated Locatelli

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste (don’t be shy)

For the Patties:

2 and a half cups cooked quinoa at room temperature

4 egg whites

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup whole wheat plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil for some gently frying


Pre heat oven to35o degrees.

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients for the pesto except the oil.  Pulse while drizzling the extra virgin olive oil in a slow steady stream.  Mix the pesto and breadcrumbs into the quinoa making sure to blend evenly.

Separate the eggs, dropping two yolks directly into the quinoa pesto mixture and stir well.  Save the egg whites in a clean bowl for a serious whipping.  You can use your mixer for this  if you are feeling especially weak in the forearm, but I suggest supplementing your workout for the day and do it by hand.  Whisk the whites until  until very soft peaks begin to develop.  Gently fold the egg whites into the quinoa and set aside.

In a small frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium high temperature.  using your hands begin to form small patties out of the quinoa, they don’t need to be perfect concentric circles, they just need to look a little round and stay together.  Gently fry the patties one by one or two by two (whatever space will allow) until golden, about a minute and half per side.  Transfer the patties to a caserole or baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes to ensure the inside is warm and cooked through.

I served these little guys along side a fine piece of haddock but that’s for another day…




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