Mini Quinoa Veggie Bites AND What is Quinoa, Anyway?

On April 11, 2012, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome
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I’m always on the lookout for quick-fix breakfast options and ways to prepare tasty meatless meals.  I’ve recently been experimenting with incorporating more quinoa (say KEEN – WAH) into our meal plans, so I’m pretty enthusiastic about blending all three goals into this yummy recipe.  Switching up or adding even more veggies is going to make this a completely customizable favorite for your family.


quinoa frittata

Cheesy Quinoa Veggie Bites - Yum! Don't they look like little sausage patties? Totally meatless and yet, loaded with complete protein!

Most people think quinoa is a grain, but it is actually the seed of an herbaceous flowering plant, called goosefoot (Chenopodium).  Beets and spinach are other common chenopods.  Quinoa was a valued staple as far back in history as the Incan Empire.  It is protein-rich and nutrient-dense.  A 1/4 cup serving of quinoa boasts 58.5% of the DV of manganese, 31.2% of tryptophan, 29.6% of magnesium, 28.1% of phosphorus, 20.7% of fiber, 19.4% of folate and 18% of copper.  Quinoa isn’t just high in protein, it is a COMPLETE protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.  This delicious, nutty-flavored seed is a powerhouse of nutrition that lends itself to all different types of recipes.  I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of all the ways to use it.

quinoa cooked

Here's what quinoa looks like after it's cooked. You actually cook it a lot like rice, except it cooks so much faster. I did a giant batch in my pressure cooker in 8 minutes, but even on the stovetop, it's only about 12-15 minutes to cook.

IMPORTANT:  It is important to thoroughly rinse and drain quinoa before cooking it.  The outside of the seeds is covered in saponins, a naturally occurring substance that has a bitter taste.  A quick rinse rids the seeds of this outer coating and leaves the yummy seed behind.  Please don’t try to cook quinoa without rinsing it.  You’ll decide you don’t like it, without ever tasting the real thing and be missing out on a delicious and healthy protein option for your family.

I got the inspiration for this recipe on one of my favorite foodie blogs, Iowa Girl Eats.  Kristin created Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups, and as always, her pictures were so deliciously inspiring, I had to get busy.  I wanted to try to make a similar sort of breakfast or brunch option, but without meat.  Here’s the trick.  I still sort of wanted my carnivore family to think it TASTED like meat.  I wondered what would happen if I included seasonings that are great for making sausage and then incorporated some healthy veggies, too.   If I had had any color of sweet bell pepper in the fridge, I definitely would have added them.  I think some grated carrot would be good, as well!  As it was, I had a zucchini, some spinach, green onions and some fresh cilantro.  I baked these up in muffin tins and this batch would have made 38 minis, but, I only have one mini muffin tin, so I got 24 minis and 7 regular size.

Here’s the cool thing we discovered.  Not only do we love how these quinoa frittatas taste, they would be gorgeous used as appetizers and they would be tasty in salads.  You could serve them in pitas, or with dip or with sauces.  The possibilities are limitless.  I would also bake this as filling in stuffed bell peppers.  I think it could be formed into patties and served on English muffins or bagels for a breakfast sandwich on the go, too.  The texture of the quinoa with the eggs, gives the mouth feel of ground meat, so with the right seasonings, you can really fool your tongue into thinking you may be eating meat!  I haven’t tested this theory, yet, but I am also convinced that these little quinoa bites would freeze well, so they would be great candidates for a bulk/freezer cooking session.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Quinoa Veggie Bites

Rating: 51

5 minutes

15 minutes

20 minutes

38 mini or 19 standard

Cheesy Quinoa Veggie Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients, except for the eggs.
  2. Beat eggs lightly and then add to the veggie mixture. Combine thoroughly, so all ingredients are moistened and evenly distributed.
  3. Spray your muffin tin generously with non-stick spray.
  4. Spoon quinoa mixture into muffin tin. I used my cookie dough scoop and one scoop was perfect to fill the mini cups to just under the rim. (I used two scoops for the standard muffin tin.)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (minis). (For standard muffin tins bake 20 minutes)
  6. Allow frittatas to cool at least five minutes in the muffin tin, then remove to a cooling rack. You can serve these warm or cold, in a salad or a pita, on a bagel or an English muffin, as an appetizer, a side dish or a quick snack. They're incredibly versatile and whether you need breakfast-on-the-go or something for lunch, you'll find them to be a satisfying, nutrition-packed and delicious option! Enjoy!
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frittata quinoa

These are delicious any time of day and can be served in so many different ways!

 

 

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21 Responses to Mini Quinoa Veggie Bites AND What is Quinoa, Anyway?

  1. These look so delicious and easy to make-thank you for the recipe!

  2. I did not know what quinoa was. Thanks for letting me know! Stopping by from Mom Spark Media.

    • Jill, it’s only a recent discovery for me, but I’ve seen so many recipes, lately, that include it. I’m excited about the health benefits and how easy it is to incorporate into so many different kinds of dishes! Thanks for visiting!

  3. Becca says:

    I am a huge fan of quinoa! These look like you could whip them up quickly :)

  4. Deidra Bigham says:

    Thank you for such a great recipe. We have just started eating quinoa in our house (like two times,) and I’m excited to try this *different* option besides having it as a side dish.

  5. Kelle says:

    I doubled the recipe … ooops, there it is, I figured it out. I doubled the recipe so I could make muffins and stuffed peppers… it came out wet… I forgot to double the quinoa…. well we will see how it turns out. oops. Smells good

    • lol – Kelle. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve done that, in doubling a recipe. Did it still work okay for stuffing peppers?

      • Kelle says:

        It did do well with the peppers. Tasted amazing. I went a little light on the fennel and glad I did. Its a strong flavor for me, but I know hubby will love it. The muffins turned out a bit firmer, I left them in a few minutes longer. My son liked it. I took a few of the muffins and smashed them up and added them to the mix in the peppers to firm it up a bit. I know hubs will be ok with it, he is really great about trying things. Will totall make it again, but of course with the right amount of quinoa LOL.

      • Kelle says:

        Yes, Glenda it did work for the peppers, a bit mushy/wet, but I just used the muffins (which I cooked a bit more than 20 min.) and broke them up into small pieces and added it to the pepper mix to firm it up a bit. Tasted amazing though… true tell of a good recipe… I messed it up so it might not look right but it sure was yummy. I went a bit light on the fennel as it isn’t a flavor I am super fond of, but hubs loves it. I am sure he will like them.

        • I’m so glad, you enjoyed it, Kelle. I was so excited about the flavor combination when we tried it and it got my family to try something new (quinoa) without a fuss. I’m working on another quinoa recipe and hope to have it posted in a day or two.

  6. Jenny says:

    I just made these but added some green pepper and carrots, and HOLY COW are these delicious! The only thing is that I couldn’t get mine to get crispy. I made them in regular muffin tins for half an hour and they were still pretty mushy!

    • hmmm…I wonder if more veggies makes more moisture? Maybe to increase the veggies, we would need to increase the quinoa, too, or just extend the baking time a little. I’m glad the flavor was good for you. If you figure out the extra moisture problem, I’d love for you to come back and let me know.Thanks so much for stopping by.

      • Jenny says:

        I’ll definitely be making these again so I’ll let you know! I think it may have been the eggs? We’ll see!

  7. [...]                             Cheesy Quinoa Veggie Bites from Busy at Home [...]

  8. Kelle says:

    So I am trying this again. Didn’t double the recipe this time (lol) just sticking right to it, measuring carefully. Not sure if I didn’t cook the quinoa long enough, it seemed a little moist. I noticed in your mixing bowl your ingredients after the egg didn’t seem as wet as mine. I cooked the quinoa by bringing to a boil then simmering for 20 min. It appeared all the water was evaporated and I measured and it was 2 c cooked. ( I used 1/3 C dry as I have done that in other recipes and found it to yield 1 C cooked)… maybe I need more quinoa?
    Anyway, it was too moist to make patties, so i poured it into a stoneware cookie sheet with sides. My goal is to cook it and cut it into squares to put on sandwiches as my son is complaining I am not buying lunchmeat anymore so I am hoping this substitute works for him. I will let you know how it turns out. Either way I know it will taste yummy. :)

    • That sounds like the way I cook my quinoa, Kelle. It is very loose, like a frittata batter. I didn’t actually make patties, I used a cookie dough scoop to fill mini muffin tins. I don’t think I could have made them hold together as patties, either.

      I’m so excited to see how it turns out baking them in the cookie sheet! That’s a great idea!

      • Kelle says:

        I took a little longer to bake. I let it bake for 30 min rather than 20. It fluffed up then settled back down, the kids devoured it. I cut it into squares and they ate it like a sandwich slice with a piece of cheese on bread, my DD with mustard on hers (yum, I had a bite). I liked it just on a plate. My son had 3 pieces. Only had less than half the cookie sheet left LOL. Its a hit for sure. I like the idea of the muffin tins so it is a little thicker. In the sheet it was maybe 1/4″ thick I’d say. Held together alright once cooked though, I just used a spatula to cut and scoop out some squares.

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