There’s something about the word ‘fritter’ that just SOUNDS decadent, doesn’t it? Corn fritters, prawn fritters, apple fritters… it conjures images of delicious little parcels of deep-fried goodness, all crisp and fatty on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. Delicious, right?
Well I’m going to have to start off with an apology, because these aren’t THOSE sort of fritters. They’re still crispy and delicious, but they’re also really, really healthy, which is not something you can say about any of our friends over in the deep-fried camp. (Which, let’s face it, is one of life’s great tragedies really.)
No, we’re not talking about THOSE sort of fritters, but THESE fritters are simple to make, don’t require a deep fryer, and contain everyone’s favourite nutritional powerhouse, quinoa. Quinoa really is a fabulous little seed, isn’t it? All protein-y and carb-y at the same time, it really pulls its weight. Unlike your traditional fritter, there’s also no flour – so they’re suitable for all you gluten-freers.
I use frozen spinach for this recipe because a) I always have some in the freezer, and b) all the hard work has been done for you, and who can argue with that? Like most things that come out of the freezer, the spinach does have a tendency to be a little, well, wet when it comes out of the box. So you don’t end up with a watery batter, I defrost it in a sieve so the excess water drips straight out.
Of course, you may be sitting there shaking your head in disbelief that anyone could possibly choose a frozen vegetable over fresh, so to you I say, ‘Go forth and use fresh spinach, my child, and god speed.’ Just be sure to wilt it first (and get rid of some of the excess water), as big dry leaves will make getting your fritters to stick together an impossible task. You could even be a bit cray-cray and use kale instead, but again, you’d want to chop it very finely and wilt it first (and definitely don’t use the stalks).
Because this isn’t a typical liquid ‘batter’, you’ll need to treat the fritters carefully when you flip them. Don’t attempt to flip them over until they’re cooked through on one side – you’ll know they’re ready to turn when they feel firm to the touch and slide easily around the pan (if they feel ‘stuck’ in place, they’re not ready). The easiest way to form the fritters is to dollop a big lot of mixture into the pan, then press down with a spoon into your chosen size and shape. They don’t have to be perfect, it’s quinoa not quantum physics. But if you’re serving them to guests or you’re a Virgo or something, then you can use an egg ring to keep them in a consistent size and shape, or else get your hands dirty and shape them by hand.
I like to eat these with a fresh salad and a big dollop of Tabasco – yum. You could also make a quick guacamole to accompany, or even yogurt/cucumber/coriander. Although they taste fine at room temperature, they’re best served hot so they retain their crispiness – if you’re making them in advance, heat them in some foil in the oven when ready to serve.
The most time-consuming part of this recipe is probably the frying process. A way to get around this is to cook them in the oven. Pre-heat your oven to 200C, put a splash of oil into a non-stick baking tray and put in the oven (empty) for 10 minutes. Carefully remove, then carefully spoon out your fritters into the baking tray and return to oven for five minutes. Remove from oven and check they’re cooked (using same technique as above), then flip over and give another five minutes on the other side. Every oven is different so you may need to experiment to find your sweet spot, but basically it needs to be nice and hot so the batter sizzles when you put it on the tray and gives it the same crispiness you get from frying. Don’t overcook or cook too slowly, as the egg will become rubbery.
- 1 cup of white quinoa
- 1 packet frozen spinach, defrosted (see note above)
- 3 eggs
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 pinch hot paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Oil for frying (I use Rice Bran Oil)
- Cook your quinoa according to packet instructions and allow to cool.
- Add spinach to quinoa in a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs on top, then stir to combine. Don’t over mix, but ensure the egg is evenly distributed throughout the mixture (so you can’t see flecks of yolk or white).
- Add the spices, garlic and season well.
- At this point your mixture should be wet but hold its form.
- Heat a good slosh of oil in a non-stick pan on high. Add dollops of mixture (see note above) and cook for a few minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your pan, only do a few fritters at a time, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Wrap cooked fritters in foil to keep warm while you finish the rest of the batch.