Black Bean & Quinoa Everything

All the Trader Joe chatter is about these things lately: Quinoa and Black Bean infused Tortilla Chips. I bought a bag to try at home. Gone in sixty seconds. I went back to the store to buy ten bags and they were gone from the shelves. I asked a crew member if there were any in the back and he, and a few more crew members, burst out laughing. "Girl, those chips became like Peppermint Joe-Joes.  People are lining up at the truck for them!"  

As a testimonial to how perfectly freakin' AWESOME the crew is at Trader Joe's, one of them took my cell phone number and promised to text me when the next shipment came in. And she actually did:

Hm, usually my love has a better effect than that. Anyway, I hurried over and scored six bags and there was this great communal love-fest in the snack aisle with a bunch of us loading up our carts and discussing the best way to serve these chips. People confessed to eating an entire bag solo before dinner. One guy insisted we try them with TJ's corn relish, and I myself converted a few people to trying them with the peach salsa. Then a nearby Crew member went in for the kill:

"Have you tried our Tri-Color Quinoa yet?"

We turned as one, eyebrows raised. Pardon?

"The Tri-Color Quinoa. Over in the pasta aisle. There's a recipe on the back of the package for Black Bean & Quinoa fritters that sounds like it would be great with the peach salsa, too."

I was gone. I love black bean fritters to begin with, and this sounded really good. I ended up not following the recipe to the letter because I was too lazy to get out the food processor. I'll leave it up to you to try their way. Here's my way.

Black Bean & Quinoa Fritters (My Way)

  •  1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken broth (I got confused here. Did they mean measure out 3 cups quinoa and then cook it in classic 2-to-1 ratio, in this case 6 cups of broth? Or to prepare enough quinoa in chicken broth to yield 3 cups? I went with the latter and cooked 2 cups quinoa in 4 cups broth and the yield was enough with some left over)
  • 2-3 eggs (start with 2, you may need to add another to get the ingredients to bond and the fritters to hold their shape)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Actually, if you combine all without the egg, you could stop here, add a vinaigrette and end up with a very nice salad.

But add the egg, mix it all up. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop up a generous tablespoon of quinoa, drop gently into the oil and gently flatten into a patty. My first batch fell apart and I needed to add the third egg.

Fry until brown on both sides and drain on paper towels.

To go along with these babies, I had a salad spinner basket full of greens from the garden: yellow swiss chard, beet tops, and leaves from Purple Peacock Broccoli, which is a cross between broccoli and kale so the leaves are edible. To prep the greens, I had something from the Department of I've Been Meaning to Do This for Years but Never Got Around to It:  flavored olive oil.  

I don't know what's taken me so long, it's not like this is a time-consuming, labor-intensive chore. I guess it was just being in Homegoods and finding a couple of glass bottles for olive oil on clearance and deciding one of them would be exclusively for herb-infused oil. And there's nothing to this at all: wash and dry sprigs of thyme, rosemary, oregano, whatever you want, and cram them into the bottle. Peel and smash a few cloves of garlic, slice them lengthwise so you can get them through the neck of the bottle too. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Then funnel in your olive oil. Stop up the bottle, let it sit a few days. Next thing you know you're using it to sauté everything, dunking bread in it, drizzling it over pasta. When the oil runs out, just pour more in. And be sure you arrange it on a cutting board with a bouquet of just-picked roses and a lemon, because that's what all the cool people do.

So here's the Money Shot of sautéed greens and quinoa-black bean fritters. Amazing how that entire basket of greens cooked down to a wilted lump. But fabulous cooked down in the infused oil and then braised with a little added chicken broth. Top the fritters with a spoonful of peach salsa and you are in business.