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29th September 2015

Quinoa Frittata, what a wonderful phrase

Helena Maxwell-Jackson creates a brunch that means no worries for the rest of your days

Until my first year at university, I had always been a breakfast person. Naturally, when I arrived in halls, I continued to wake each morning imagining the nutty scent of coffee and the sweet aroma of perfectly-buttered toast.

Bounding towards the communal kitchen, I would fling the fire-door open exuberantly, and stop in my tracks. At the sight of my kitchen, the fervour of my enthusiasm subsided, and my appetite would dampen like coals on a British barbecue.

Our kitchen was never the cleanest. When I turned on the light, the neon glow would illuminate trails of sticky smears. The lamp would flicker as if shaking with mirth, reveling in my disgust at my own shambolic kitchen. The sight of that kitchen was certainly enough to put me off the idea of breakfast.

Of course, as a first year student, I rarely ventured out of my bedroom before 11am unless a particularly vehement lecturer decided to make the cruel joke of scheduling a 9am lecture. When I did leave my room, and tiptoed into the kitchen (watching out for pieces of broken glass and the cockroach that allegedly frequented block three) I was always at a loss as to what to eat.

By my own surprisingly punctilious standards, in light of the squalor within which I endured and even thrived, 11am was far too late for a meal of cereal or yogurt. Anything later than 10:30am and we were in brunch territory.

Brunch foods are easy enough to think up; eggs, bacon, and perhaps the occasional veggie sausage. However, all these things require cooking, and worse still: Frying. There is nothing difficult about frying, but it can leave a film of grease on the hob, which can dry into a sticky nightmare.

My flatmate was the Rothko of grease. Our stove was a canvas upon which he built ever-shifting layers of vegetable oil and pork fat, expressively spotted with bits of tomato sauce and dried up grains of rice. I did not want to add more butter splatters to the stove quite so early on in my tenure.

Now that we are a year into university, my flatmates and me keep a fairly tight ship. However, the memory of that kitchen still lingers over me, casting a shadow over my breakfast aspirations.

Luckily, I have this lovely quinoa frittata recipe. All the joys of brunch condensed into a neat, cake-shaped treat. This brunch recipe is baked, not fried, so you don’t have to worry about wiping down the stove top. Better still, this recipe can be made ahead of time, and is equally good when eaten hot or cold, so it’s perfect to eat on the way to those pesky 9am lectures.

I paired this fritatta with a creamy carrot and thyme purée, elevating the dish into the demesne of dinner. The purée is a joy in itself, and would work equally well as a bed to a white fish, like cod. The puree does involve a bit of frying, but you could easily roast the onion and garlic in your oven instead.

For the frittata:

  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 chilli
  • ½ leek
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 4 desserts spoons of double cream
  • A splash of olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • 4 medium free range eggs
  • 4 table spoons of cooked quinoa
  • A tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 6-hole Muffin Tin


1.       Preheat the oven to 180°C

2.       Chop the pepper and chilli into little cubes.

3.       Slice the leek, using only the white and light green part. Wash the rounds well in a colander.

4.       Place two sheets of paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Place the bacon on top of the paper towel and two more pieces of paper towel on top.

5.       Microwave the bacon until it is nice and crispy.

6.       Place the chili, leeks, pepper and a whole garlic clove into an oven-safe dish and drizzle with oil. Season well and bake for around 15 minutes.

7.       Grease the muffin tin.

8.       When the bacon has cooled down cut in into little cubes.

9.       Whisk four eggs in a mixing bowl. Add Parsley, cream and season well.

10.    Purée the roasted garlic clove by removing it from its skin, sprinkling salt on it, and squishing it with a knife.

11.    Layer the roasted vegetables, garlic, bacon and quinoa into the muffin tin. Saturate each layer with the egg mixture.

12.   Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

13.   Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

And for the Purée:

  • ½ stick Celery, chopped
  • ½ Leek, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 5 carrots
  • ½ onion, finely-diced
  • A bunch of thyme, tied with a string
  • 2 table spoons of double cream
  • Olive oil
  • A Knob of butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • Salt and white pepper


1.       Preheat the oven at 180°

2.       Peel the carrots and chop into chunks.

3.        Place in an oven-safe dish, drizzle with oil and season. Roast until soft.

4.       Place the celery, leek and ½ the onion in a pan and cover with water. Simmer for 20 minutes before straining, keeping the liquid and discarding the celery, leek and onion.

5.       Melt the butter and a little oil in a pan. Fry the onion until soft and add the garlic and the thyme.

6.       Cover the onion and garlic with a little of the liquid and add the roasted carrots. Season and simmer for 5 minutes before blending to a puree.

7.       Check once again for seasoning and add the cream.


Final step: enjoy!

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