When my class of 3 year-olds requested a few more lunch ideas, these croquettes came to mind, and I decided to rework them for a gluten-free diet, using crushed rice crackers instead of bread crumbs. By sheer accident-as often happens when new recipes are born-we forgot to roll the balls in the crumbs at all during class. The croquettes did not lose one bit of flavor or texture.
So, try this dish with or without the crumbs, but be ready for a hit. The finished croquettes were met with absolute excitement from both the mini-chefs and their Big People. The Yummies were in fine form; some of them even asked for seconds after they had had a first helping plus dessert. The Big People even kept trying not to sneak bites of their kid’s croquette since they had to wait for the second batch to be done before they got their own.
These are also really just so much fun to make. My advice is to double the recipe, cook some of them off for right now, a few more to send to school in a lunchbox, and to store half of the uncooked mixture in the freezer to use in a couple of weeks when you just have to have a second round.
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Croquettes with Rainbow Chard
*1 1/4 c. red quinoa + 1 1/4 c. yellow quinoa, uncooked
*4 c. vegetable stock+ 1 c. water
*1 1/2 c. sweet potatoes, cooked and pureed*
*2 eggs or 1/2 c. more sweet potato puree
*3 T. olive oil
*2 c. rainbow chard with the red middle stem removed and then chopped
*3/4 c. shallots, finely chopped
*3 cloves of garlic, minced
*2 t. cumin
*1 t. dried thyme
*1 t. dried oregano
*1 t. coriander
* salt and pepper, to taste
*1- 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs or rice crackers, crushed to a powder
*canola oil for cooking the croquettes
Big Person: Bring the vegetable stock and water to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed pot.
Together: While the veggie stock is coming to a boil, wash the quinoa. Place 1/2 of the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Wash the quinoa under a cool tap for several seconds, having your mini-chef swirl the quinoa gently with their hands. Repeat with the second 1/2 of the quinoa.
Big Person: Add the quinoa to the boiling stock and turn the heat down to low. Cook on low for 13-15 minutes, or until the little hair springs up on each quinoa grain.
Warm the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots till they are translucent. Add the spices and cook another minute, stirring. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more, stirring, and take the pan off the heat and pour the chard mixture into a heat-proof bowl to cool while you start assembling the croquettes.
Together: It’s egg cracking time for your mini-chef. Have them crack the two eggs into a very large bowl. Help them if they are very small and make sure to have a wet soapy cloth nearby to wipe up the egg that does not, well, make it into the bowl. Whisk the eggs with a fork.
Now add in the cooked quinoa, the sweet potatoes, and the chard mixture and give it all a big stir till everything is very well combined.
Set out a large baking sheet or a few dinner plates, etc. and begin shaping the croquettes. For mini-chefs, a ball is the easiest shape to make. Have them scoop up a handful of the mixture and sculpt it into a ball. Place the finished balls onto the baking sheet and keep sculpting until you have used up all of the mixture.
At this point, you can get on with the next step (frying) or roll each ball in the bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. When working without the crumbs, just make sure that your croquettes are small enough to turn with a slotted spoon instead of a spatula so that they do not fall apart.
Big Person: Heat an inch of oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat (about 350 degrees F). Place a few balls into the pan and fry them until golden brown on each side. Remove to a baking sheet lined with a double stack of paper towels and cook all the croquettes in the same way.
Serve alongside a dipping sauce (any favorite, delicious sauce) or over greens. They are really great served fresh from the pan but also taste nice cold.