Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon and Olive Quinoa Cakes

I am pretty deece at planning ahead and organizing my life.  But at the same time, I feel like I am always doing everything last minute.  Sometimes I wonder if I should just redefine what last minute is so that I am more satisfied with my preparation for things.  Maybe I should decide that "last minute" is literally a minute before something needs to be done.  That way when I am up until 3 am working on something, I can feel like I am doing things way ahead of time. 

What I am talking about:  Thanksgiving.  This is the first time I will be making the meal, at least, the whole meal.  And there is no doubt in my mind that I will be up until midnight on Wednesday night getting ready for Thanksgiving the next day.  I think I will do my family proud by keeping the essentials on the table, but also trying some new things.  Want to know my current menu?  Here is what I am doing:

-Alton Brown's Brined Turkey - I ordered a fresh turkey.  I will let you know if it was worth it.  This recipe is killer.  
-Gravy (just from the Turkey drippings and some homemade chicken stock) - my dad disagrees with my method, he likes to add milk.  
-Mashed Potatoes - I just do cream cheese, butter, cream, salt and pepper.  Just like my mom taught me.  
-Orange-Cranberry Sauce - a classic.  
-Smoked Chile Scalloped Sweet Potatoes - You know my sweet potato dilemma, I am going spicy.  
-Sausage and Kale Stuffing - I struggled with what kind of regular bread stuffing to make and went this which is full of veggies (kale and butternut squash) and other non-bread items like sausage.  
-Cornbread, Leek, Bacon, Apple, and Pecan Stuffing - Cornbread stuffing with apples and bacon is my favorite!
-Soft Knotted Rolls - these might not happen.

Dessert:  Pumpkin Pie from the Flour cookbook (here is close recipe) with whipped cream

Probably too much.  I mean, definitely too much.  But ya know.  

Have I ever told you the story of my sister and her pumpkin pie?  Several Thanksgivings ago, my sister made the pumpkin pie.  And it was a big deal because she made the pumpkin puree from scratch.  One day there was a little pumpkin on the counter.  The next day there was a pumpkin pie on the counter.  So...we all praised her from making her pie from scratch.  And we also all went on and on about how good it tasted.  Only to find out (I think, several years later), that the pumpkin puree didn't work out and she actually just made it from a can.  I have never been able to trust her since.  (For the record, she insists that what I have explained here isn't even what happened.  Don't listen to her.)

The bottom line is:  there is very little evidence that fresh pumpkin puree makes any difference.  However, I still made some to make my pie from (Aunt Linda always does it, so shall I).  Pumpkin pie is on my "Thanksgiving only" list, so I thought I should do it justice.

Anyways, as usual, this discussion has nothing to do with the recipe I am posting.  I have made quinoa cakes a few times before, but I always just make it up as I go, so I never have a recipe to share.  I enjoy throwing quinoa cakes into a weeknight meal mix.  They aren't that quick to make from the start, but once you have to mixture made, they make a really quick dinner.  And I LOVE them with a green salad and a delicious dijon based vinaigrette.  As with any veggie based cake, they can be a little finicky and fall apart easily.  For the last 500 cakes that this recipes makes, I ended up heating oil in a non-stick skillet and then just putting an thin, even layer of the quinoa mixture over the entire skillet.  I crisped up the first side and then just kind of broke it up to flip it in pieces.  It isn't pretty.  But just as good.  And I was hungry.  PS:  These do NOT taste half as good without the salad and vinaigrette.  Necessary.

Lemon and Olive Quinoa Cakes
adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan or Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped green olives
1/3 cup chopped parsley or green onions
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon water
olive oil

In a medium saucepan place quinoa, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, toss together onion, garlic, cheese, olives, parsley, lemon zest, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and cooled quinoa. Add beaten eggs and stir until all of the quinoa mixture is moistened.  Add water to thoroughly moisten mixture. Quinoa should be slightly wet so it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Scoop out mixture by the 2 tablespoonful. Use clean, moist fingers to form into a patty. Create as many patties as you’d like.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. If you pan is large enough, add four to six patties to the hot pan. You’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them.

Cook on each side until beautifully browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Low heat helps the quinoa cakes cook slowly. Brown on each side then remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Serve warm with a small spinach salad, or with scrambled eggs. Also, the quinoa mixture can be left, uncooked in the fridge for a few days. Cook as necessary.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5


  1. Your dinner will be beautiful...no doubt. But I know how it feels to be approaching the big day. These cakes look tasty. Thank you for making my morning brighter! I'm so glad I have your blog to make me smile. I hope you have a great day.

  2. I told you all the truth when I eventually did make it with a pie pumpkin a few years later. it's fine.