How do you get your protein?
This is the question I get asked the most when I tell people that I am a vegetarian. For a quick dinner or meatless main course when barbecuing I used to often rely on store bought veggie burgers. While some brands offer a tasty variety of burgers with about 10g of protein per serving, most of them are heavily processed and loaded with inflammation causing vegetable oils as well as artificial preservatives, flavors and coloring. In my attempt to provide cleaner meals for my family and me I needed to find a better alternative. Enter: the spinach patties from Dr. Alejandro Junger’s book Clean Eats. It is a fantastic book for anyone looking to get started with cooking clean meals!
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
- 1 onion, diced or 1 leek, green part only finely chopped
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch fresh or frozen spinach
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 egg or 3 tablespoons chia seeds, ground and soaked in 1/4 cups of water for 15 minutes
- 1/2 to 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, toasted and ground
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Romano cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup crumbled sheep or goat feta (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, then sauté the mushrooms, onion or leek, and garlic. Transfer the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and add the spinach. Cover and steam the spinach for 1 to 2 minutes, until the leaves are wilted, then drain it, pressing it against the edge of strainer to remove any excess liquid. Chop the cooked spinach, and add it to the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture. Add the scallions, egg or soaked chia seeds, quinoa or rice, ground sunflower seeds, optional cheeses, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and combine everything thoroughly.
- Again in the same pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until it’s hot. Form the spinach mixture into patties and sauté each patty until it’s browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
- Serve the patties warm as a meal or at room temperature on top of a salad.
- Make sure your pan is truly non-stick and hot enough. Patience: The patties should be well browned before flipping them. Otherwise, they will fall apart. I had to learn the hard way!
- The patties seem to hold together better when they are not too thin. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup for portioning the mixture and then just flattened it out a bit.
- Time savers: Use the sunflower seeds raw as opposed to toasting them before grinding. If you don’t have shiitake mushrooms use whichever variety you have on hand. Use pre-cooked brown rice or quinoa. Make the patty mixture the night before and keep refrigerated. Double the recipe to keep some of these babies in the freezer!