Amy introduced our family to quinoa some time ago. We have mostly reserved it for a side dish, either standing on its own, or tossed with veggies, beans, dried fruit or other additions for a pilaf-style salad side dish. Amy has a post on here about a quinoa loaf we made that was good, but it isn’t anything I desired to make regularly.
The only processing type kitchen appliances I like to use are the Vit-A-Mix blender and the immersion blender. I hate using a food processor, mainly because it is a real pain to clean (at least to me), and the quinoa loaf requires the use of a food processor.
So, yesterday, while I was browsing the aisles of the local grocery store, I had to come up with a dinner for that evening. I wanted something with quinoa and so I was browsing the web on my phone for a recipe that looked appealing. On a side note, is it dangerous to drive a grocery cart with a toddler while I’m browsing the web on my phone?
I didn’t see anything and I was getting impatient (and so was Jack). I gave up and proceeded to checkout with the few groceries I had and rolled the dice assuming I had something at home I could make with the quinoa for dinner.
I lucked out when I found a recipe on Epicurious for mini quinoa cakes. Unfortunately, the recipe called for grated parmesan cheese, which I not only didn’t have, but since our son is on a dairy hiatus (hopefully to be lifted at the end of this week), it wasn’t something I could make for the entire family to eat.
Another thing I don’t necessarily like doing is fixing a separate meal for Jack. I like it when we can all eat the same dish, more or less, with little or no modification for him. It keeps his meals from getting boring and keeps dinner for taking longer to make. I think he gets excited when he knows he is eating the same thing as mom and dad.
Anyways, it wasn’t hard to modify and it was one of the easiest quinoa dishes I had made.
Here’s what you’ll need (I’m not much of a measurer on most spices and things and this recipe is most likely very modifiable for a lot of different twists on these things):
2 cups cooked quinoa – I cooked this using vegetable broth, but plain water will do for a more versatile quinoa for savory or sweet variations on these
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (this was my substitute for cheese in the original recipe)
3 Tbsp dehydrated minced onions
dash or two of salt
dash or two of fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp mustard powder
1/4 cup fresh chives
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
All of the above ingredients can be substituted for others to make a variation on these cakes except the quinoa, eggs and breadcrumbs (salt is highly recommended no matter what variation you choose, but is totally optional).
Here’s what you do:
In a large bowl, beat the 4 eggs. Add the two cups of quinoa, onions, salt and pepper and mix. Then mix in the chives, parsley and nutritional yeast. Next, mix in the garlic and mustard. Finally, add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Let this mixture stand for a few minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to soak up much of the moisture. You should be left with a slightly sticky (I had to rinse my hands off a few times when forming the cakes) mixture to form cakes that are roughly 2-3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. I was able to form 12 cakes.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium-low heat. Place cakes in the oil and cook covered for seven minutes. I was able to fit six cakes in my skillet while leaving some room between each one. After seven minutes, check to see if the cakes are golden to dark brown. If they aren’t, turn up the heat a little and cook for 3 more minutes. Once browned, carefully flip the cakes and cover for an additional 7 minutes or until the other side is nicely browned. Remove onto a plate with a paper towel and repeat for remaining cakes.
After tasting these, I thought, the possibilities are endless for these! They weren’t too dry, and this particular variety went well dipped in barbecue sauce (they reminded both Amy and me of chicken nuggets a little bit). I am not, by any means, a vegetarian, and I love a good steak, ribs, wings, etc. But these I would take to a tailgating party and we live in Kansas City, one of the best tailgating cities in the country.
As for modifying these for other meals, I would start with the basic egg, quinoa, salt, breadcrumb ingredients and add 1/4 cup of oats, some maple syrup and cinnamon for a breakfast cake. Chopped dried fruit of any kind may also be appropriate for a sweet variation. Amy also suggested forming them into more of a meatball shape, so adding smoked paprika (or just liquid smoke and regular paprika if you can’t find smoked paprika), cumin, garlic, mustard and putting the nutritional yeast and onion back in might do for that.
I’ll continue to make variations on what is most certainly to become a staple in our household. The best part is, you can make the mixture and form the cakes ahead of time. I’ll also be experimenting with making these in bulk, cooking them, then freezing them and seeing what the best way to reheat these are. My assumption is that they will heat up nicely on a pizza stone or similar surface in a convection oven in about 10 minutes.
Until then, enjoy these and please post any comments on any variations you try!