Quinoa Bites with spinach, red pepper and goat’s cheese

19 Jan

Quinoa seems to be the food of the moment. I keep coming across so many different recipes for it. It seems literally every other recipe on Pinterest contains quinoa (that or kale)! Although a grain, quinoa is high in protein, gluten free and super healthy. It’s incredibly versatile too. It can be used as a flour in baking, as a grain in place of rice or cous-cous or as flakes to make a light breakfast porridge. The possibilities are endless! Here I used the quinoa grain itself to make a simple, yet tasty, healthy light bite that could be a snack (I often have one as my protein hit with an apple mid afternoon) or serve with a salad as a perfect light lunch.

To makes these delicious bites, you will need:

  • 2 cups/ 12oz/ 340g cooked quinoa *see note below about cooking quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 red peppers, diced small
  • 140z/ 100g hard goat’s cheese, grated
  • 90z /250g fresh spinach (if you use frozen spinach omit step 4)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • Sunfower oil (to grease baking tins)
  • Salt & Pepper
Sauté peppers whilst cooking quinoa

Sauté peppers whilst cooking quinoa

Add spinach to peppers

Add spinach to peppers

This recipe makes approx 35 bites.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C/ 160°C Fan.
  2. Grease several small bun tins with sunflower oil.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the garlic and red pepper until soft.
  4. Meanwhile place the spinach in a large bowl, sprinkle over the cold water, cover and microwave for 1 minute on full power until spinach is cooked. Drain spinach of excess liquid once cooked.
  5. Add spinach to the frying pan and mix (this will dry the spinach by evaporating any excess water so your bites are not soggy!)
  6. Put the cooked quinoa, red pepper and spinach mix and grated goat’s cheese into a large bowl. Mix well and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  7.  Allow the mixture to cool for 10 – 15 minutes (you don’t want to scramble the eggs!) and then add the lightly beaten egg to the mixture and stir well to combine.
  8. Divide the mixture into bun tins (approx 2 small tsps of mix per bite)
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes (until bites have set).
  10. Once cooked, allow to cool in the tins.
  11. They will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 days. I froze a few given the mix made so many, I’ll let you know how they hold up when I defrost one to eat.
Add grated goat's cheese to the quinoa veg mix

Add grated goat’s cheese to the quinoa veg mix

Divide the mixture into bun tins

Divide the mixture into bun tins

et voilà! The final product, yum!

et voilà! The final product.

Note re. cooking quinoa: the ratio of uncooked (dry) quinoa to cooked quinoa is approximately 1:3. Either follow the instructions on the packet or you can cook it risotto style by gradually adding stock as the grain absorbs it. I cooked it as I would risotto using 1 litre of stock (boiling water with a dash of white wine and 4 tsp of vegetable bouillon powder). Risotto style takes more intensive arm work (I had a helper) but gives a better result. Either way the key is that the little quinoa grains spiral.

You could stop at step 6 and serve risotto style, the mixture does not necessarily need the egg to bind it together and the bite size portions are purely optional and I can testify that the mixture sans egg was delicious whilst warm (not that much was sampled during the cooling stage, honest!!) So I think the mix could be a healthy light dinner too.

The only negative about these little morsels was that, despite oiling the bun trays, they were a little tricky to get out. I think next time I will make them on a flat baking sheet as I don’t think the mixture would spread during cooking and besides which, if it tastes good, I don’t mind what shape it is!

One final note, as I said at the top, quinoa is very versatile and these bites are no exception. I think any flavouring, veg and cheese combo would work with the cooked quinoa base. Some that I’m thinking would be particularly tasty are: cumin and chilli; oregano, mozzarella and mushroom; spinach and feta to make greek style quinoa or for meat eaters you could always dice up some cooked bacon and add it to the mix. The possibilities really are endless!


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