Italian Quinoa Bites


Happy Friday, everyone! Oh, wow. Just as I typed that, I had a memory from 1987. I was a teacher in a private school, with the most amazing group of 13 gifted children. They ranged in age from 4-7, but their abilities were all over the place. Some of them read at a high school level. Every night I would prepare individual folders for them for each of their subjects. I still remember saying, “Stephanie can do at least 12 pages of math …” as I stuffed pages in her folder. Anyway, we had a fabulous year together, and I still see all their little faces in my mind.

Every Friday we sang our little Friday song, which is what is running through my mind at the moment:

Friday, Friday, today is Friday all day long

Friday, Friday, today is Friday all day long

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we work hard all day

But when Friday comes it’s time to shout a big, “Hooray!”

Friday, Friday, today is Friday all day long

We really love it!

Today is Friday all day long

I tried to find a YouTube video of this song so I could share it with you, but — and I’m shocked to have to report this — I couldn’t find a single one. Oh, what is to become of this Friday-songless generation!

My Friday is packed. I’m spending the morning making licorice caramels to bring to my Uncle Doug (recipe and pictures will follow in the next day or two), and after delivering the caramels — which, by way of confession, are payment for being incredibly late in returning the audio books he loaned me (is two years incredibly late?) — and ogling his garden, I’ll meet up with my sister, Megan, and we’ll take our dad and uncle to dinner for their birthdays. Not sure what will happen after that, except that it will include an hour of treadmill-walking. Yes! I’m on a six-day streak.

So … I have to share my new favorite quinoa recipe with you. I spotted this recipe about two months ago and decided I had to make it immediately. But when I got to the part about carrots and flour, I decided to deviate a little. I’d prefer sun-dried tomatoes to carrots any day of the week (especially when paired with basil), and I’m not eating wheat flour anymore. So I experimented with a first batch, and refined it for a second. With a nod to Squash Blossom Babies (and a big thank-you for the inspiration), here is my version of:

Italian Quinoa Bites

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes (with oil)
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

To begin, using a food processor or just a knife and cutting board, mince the basil, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. I used my KitchenAid.

I think those are little bits of cheese in there. Couldn’t you look at pictures of basil, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic all day? Here’s a close-up.

Once minced, it will look like this:

I went ahead and processed the rest of the basil, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic I had on hand so I could make a quick batch some January day, when we most need a taste of summer. I froze that second batch in ice cube trays, then popped them in a freezer baggie.

To this heady, indescribably fragrant mixture, add the cooked quinoa (see note below), eggs, cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.

Using a small ice cream scoop or just your hands, form into small balls and place in the greased cups of a mini muffin pan:

Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 350.

These are light, chewy, and full of Italian deliciousness. The first batch I made came along on a ferry ride to Whidbey Island with my friends, Cathy, Darlene and Abby. They turned out to be the perfect finger food for a perfectly gorgeous day.

A few facts about quinoa:

  1. Although it looks like “quin-oh-uh,” it’s pronounced “keen-wa.”
  2. Quinoa is not a grain, although everyone treats it as though it is. It’s actually a seed, but let’s just call it a grain from this point on out, because everyone else does.
  3. It has the highest protein of any grain, and is, in fact, considered to be a complete protein.
  4. It also has the most fat of any grain. This tends to make quinoa go rancid quickly, so you should store it in the fridge or freezer.
  5. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin, which is bitter and must be rinsed off. Almost all the quinoa you will buy in the U.S. has already been rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt to soak it for five minutes and then drain well.
  6. Quinoa freezes very well. You may want to double the batch you’re cooking and store some for later.




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I just put these in the oven!! I wasn’t very good at following directions… I put the basil, tomatoes, garlic, and cheese (TJ’s had a parmesan, asiago, fontina and provolone shredded blend) in the Quisinart! I also added a small handful of pine nuts and some olive oil! I like to cook my quinoa in chicken broth for more flavor! I can’t wait for these to come out of the oven! Thanks for the inspiration!!

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