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quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip

gluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first messgluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first messgluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first mess
I inadvertently made you a recipe with a detectable “game day” vibe this week. How crazy is that?! Mark and I went to our first ever NFL game with these lovely people when we were in Denver last year and the atmosphere kinda threw/took me. I’m usually pretty chill at any and all sporting events, partaking in more of the social drinking/deep fried snack-related aspects, but the tendency to veer from complete elation to total effing outrage was decidedly acute in that environment. But did I mention it was also awesome? Anyway, it was amazing to see the Broncos win when we were there and we’ll be steadily summoning up the good juju for the big win this Sunday, even if it means eating a quinoa burger that tastes like a dirty old tree branch.

But obviously I won’t be doing that because I have these golden delicious little orbs of crunch to snack on. I’ve been working on this recipe since I developed a version for a magazine a while ago (which wasn’t vegan or gluten free). These are, admittedly, a shameless rip on my favourite onion rings of all time from a Toronto vegetarian restaurant (this one if you’re wondering). Their rings were very obviously fried and for that reason, very obviously delicious. I knew I could make some baked magic happen without any major sacrifice.

To start, I went classic on the battering steps: a toss in flour, a swipe through a wet mixture, and then a final coating in some crumbs and other tasty bits. I used a GF all purpose flour for that first step. Generally eggs are employed as the glue for crumb coatings on nuggets, onion rings etc. But heavy life truth? You can make any coating stick to any food with a little unsweetened almond milk, a fat pinch of salt and some flour. I whisked some dijon into mine for extra flavour, but you could use herbs, chili sauce, lemon zest, whatever you like. The puffed quinoa makes for really light and beautiful bits of airy crunch along the outside. I mix the puffs with heavily ground up GF crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers are my fave), lots of Old Bay seasoning, some little sesames and lots of pepper. You could use smoked paprika, za’atar, curry powder… lots of options.

I’m not saying these are exactly like deep fried rings, but they are crunchy and golden and salty, which basically covers all of my pleasure points. They don’t really have that moist slick-of-oil-upon-biting thing, so a tasty sauce to smooth things over is somewhat necessary. And also, I love sauce in most applications of most food. Since I was already in deep with mustard and celery salt flavours, horseradish stirred into a creamy mayonnaise kinda scene seemed natural. I point out a few methods of achieving this in the notes–veering from simple to only slightly complex.

gluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first messorings_final3gluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first messgluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first messgluten free + vegan quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip // the first mess

vegan + GF quinoa onion rings with horseradish dip
serves: 
a large onion’s worth of rings (like 20ish)
notes: 
It is crucial that you let these hang in the fridge for an hour once they’re coated. It helps to pre-soften the onion and it also helps to adhere the coating that extra bit more. Also, I basically used my pine nut mayonnaise recipe and added a tablespoon of fresh grated horseradish and a little squeeze of lemon, but if you vibe to Vegenaise (which I sometimes do) or regular mayo, you could certainly just stir some fresh/prepared horseradish into some of that. Even some sheep’s milk yogurt or sour cream could be nice.

rings:

1 large spanish onion, peeled + cut into 1/2 inch thick rings
1/2 cup GF all purpose flour
salt + pepper
an oil spray of some kind

wet mix:
1 cup unsweetened almond or other non-dairy milk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
small handful of GF all purpose flour
salt + pepper

quinoa coating:
1-2 cups gluten free bread/cracker crumbs (I ground up Mary’s Crackers in the food processor)
1-2 cups puffed quinoa
handful black sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning (or whatever spice you like)
salt + pepper (keep in mind that Old Bay already contains hella salt)

horseradish dip:
1 cup mayonnaise/creamy base of your choosing (see notes)
squeeze of lemon juice + some zest
1 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish (or a prepared variety)
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Combine the cut onion rings, 1/2 cup of flour, salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag (or bowl). Toss the rings to evenly coat them in flour and seasoning. Set aside.

In a pie plate, combine the almond milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper. Whisk this together with a fork until combined. Set aside.

In another pie plate or large dish, combine the GF bread/cracker crumbs, puffed quinoa, sesame seeds, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Toss lightly to combine.

Set up an assembly line like this: flour coated rings, almond milk mixture, quinoa + crumb coating and then the lined baking sheets. Take a few rings out of the Ziploc bag and toss them into the almond milk mixture, coating them evenly and completely. Transfer the almond milk-soaked rings to the quinoa crumb mixture. Toss the rings in the quinoa crumb mixture, really pressing the coating onto the rings. Once the rings are adequately covered, place them on the parchment lined baking sheet, ensuring that there’s a bit of space around each one. Repeat with remaining onion rings.

Place the onion rings in the fridge to firm up for at least an hour (I once left a tray of these in the fridge for a full 24 hours by accident and they were totally fine).

While the onion rings are chilling, whisk the horseradish, lemon juice/zest and pepper into your dip base of choice. Keep covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

When you’re ready to bake them, spray the coated rings lightly with oil and then slide them into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until firm and golden brown, flipping them halfway. Serve hot with the horseradish dip.

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thecitygourmand29/01/2014 - 7:54 am

A slightly quirky twist on a classic. I saw a polenta version the other day, but these look tasty!

Shelly @ Vegetarian 'Ventures29/01/2014 - 9:20 am

Such a wonderful idea! I’ve been making Isa Chandra’s baked onion rings for years and although the texture is different than deep fried ones, it’s still totally delicious and kicks that ‘junk food craving’ when it surfaces. I can’t wait to try your version next time – puffed quinoa + a pint nut mayo? I’m in.

Kate @ The Endless Pursuit29/01/2014 - 9:34 am

Even at 8:30 in the morning I’m drooling for some of these right NOW! Holy goodness. I’ve always stayed away from cooking foods like these at home since I rarely deep fry… but baking these looks like they come pretty damn close to tasting like deep fried! Great for game day!

Emma Galloway29/01/2014 - 10:07 am

These look and sound amazing Laura! Especially love the little puffed quinoa action. Yum.

Ashley29/01/2014 - 11:00 am

Mind blown. Love all your little tips + ideas. It’s always fun to read about more of the nitty-gritty process that is oftentimes left out. Also, I MUST HAVE that white/blue mug/cup the onion rings are in. Obsessed.

These look so, so good. I don’t really like fried onion rings, but am really digging the idea of these.

PS: Not sure I’ve ever seen puffed quinoa before. Basically toasted, right?

Laura Wright29/01/2014 - 1:25 pm

Hi! Puffed quinoa is sold in the cereal aisle with the puffed wheat, millet etc. I’ve seen it at some local general grocery stores and at health food stores. I use it for these, but also to top yogurt, salads, anything that needs a little light crunch essentially.
-L

Lydia29/01/2014 - 2:40 pm

Any way to use regular quinoa for this?

Ashley29/01/2014 - 2:41 pm

Mmm, I’m a saucy one myself. Most foods are drenched in whatever sauce I can find. These baked onion rings look incredible! I can’t wait to try and to play with the spice flavorings! Go Broncos!

Laura Wright29/01/2014 - 3:00 pm

Hi Lydia,
If you want to try using regular quinoa, I would use less of it in the coating mixture. An equal ratio of it to cracker crumbs might be TOO crunchy, like break your tooth-kinda crunchy. A little handful of it might be pleasant enough, but I will highlight that the puffed quinoa has more of an airy crunch, like puffed wheat almost. No harm in trying though :)
-L

Eileen29/01/2014 - 3:23 pm

I can just imagine the super-strong crunch that quinoa must bring to these onion rings. So good. Hooray!

Kathryn29/01/2014 - 6:12 pm

I thought for years that I didn’t like onion rings. Then I tried one and was totally smitten. These are total genius.

dishing up the dirt29/01/2014 - 6:37 pm

I need to get my hands on some puffed quinoa. These onion rings sound fantastic!

Kris29/01/2014 - 9:05 pm

Whoa! I was literally just thinking today that I wanted to make some quinoa onion rings this weekend, but I didn’t (yet!) have a recipe. Laura to the rescue!! Also, stunning photography, as per usual. xo

cheri29/01/2014 - 11:17 pm

Never heard of puffed quinoa before, sounds tasty. These onions rings look delicious!

Alysa30/01/2014 - 10:03 am

I can’t even begin to tell you how DELICIOUS these look. Whoa. Love that you’ve taken the onion ring to a whole new level.

Thanks a million times over for this recipe.

Lana30/01/2014 - 12:05 pm

GIRL! These remind me of the ones at Fresh in Toronto… Except, you know, way less greasy. Love the choice of dip.

Lana30/01/2014 - 12:10 pm

(Ha! I totally pulled a fast one and commented before reading the text. And for the record, I’m so jealous you got to hang with Kelsey!!)

Chelsea//TheNakedFig30/01/2014 - 2:53 pm

OH MY GOD, YES!! These look amazing. I love onion rings and nothing goes better with them than horseradish sauce. Can’t wait to try this out. And thanks for the tip about refrigerating them. I can never get baked onion rings soft enough!

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Ananda Rajashekar02/02/2014 - 5:11 pm

Laura, your pictures are stunning! can’t take my eyes off….and onion rings are just AMAZING!

Brian @ A Thought For Food02/02/2014 - 5:38 pm

You don’t know how excited I am to see this recipe… my mom’s best friend is vegan and gluten-free and I know they’re always struggling to find fun recipes to try. This looks like so much fun. Just passed it along to her and I’ll let you know when they make it.

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl03/02/2014 - 3:50 pm

These look so delicious,and love the twist with the quinoa, major yum. Your photos are pretty to add!

sara forte03/02/2014 - 5:05 pm

sweet heavens you are so damn creative. and pine nut mayo? What? Girl, you are too good. These look incredible.

Peter VandenBerg03/02/2014 - 10:00 pm

I’ve been a Vegetarian for over two years now and it has already had a distinct effect on me being willing to cook. Before I was vegetarian eating somewhat healthy was very easy without really doing any work. There are lots of frozen options out there that although not really great for you do in the end have what you need to maintain.

Right now I’m at the stage where just putting a bunch of stuff into a skillet is cooking for me, but I’m hoping to progress towards something a little more eloquent and rewarding. I definitely like the idea of being able to cook for my friends that eat meat and them enjoy it. It shows them that it’s possible to enjoy food while not destroying valuable life on this planet.

Nat @ the Apple Diaries04/02/2014 - 6:41 am

I literally have not had onion rings since my teenage years of eating fast food! I never even thought to make a healthy version! Awesome idea :)

Lauren Anne04/02/2014 - 3:54 pm

I love your site! Subscribing asap (:

Kasey06/02/2014 - 12:08 am

You consistently wow me with your creativity, lady. I loooove onion rings (usually, the fried kind) but I am so pumped to try this. I am one of those Americans who could care less about the Superbowl, but I’m all for the food. :) x

[…] photographers. I’m thinking of it as a win-win since I’ll be munching on Laura’s Quinoa Onion Rings if The First Mess wins and this Orange Chocolate Tart if Happyyolks is sent to […]

[…] vegan recipe, this horseradish dip has some spice. Pair it with quinoa onion rings for protein! (via The First […]

Judee@ Gluten Free A-Z Blog07/07/2014 - 3:00 pm

Looks like a wonderful recipe that I am sure everyone in my family would absolutely love, but I am most impressed with your bowl. Is it from Turkey?

Laura Wright07/07/2014 - 5:35 pm

Hi Judee! It was made in Portugal
-L

[…] This is one of those dishes with quinoa that proves nearly anything can be made healthily! Get the recipe here. […]

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