April 25, 2017

Cooking Cooking

Quinoa Cakes, aka Quinoa Burgers

I’m hoping to remedy the lack of new recipes appearing here, because I have several great recipes to share with you, new ones that have emerged from a new necessity to make meal-planning and preparation a little easier, less time-consuming and good for Theo. 

These quinoa cakes are a good example. Quinoa cakes? Quinoa burgers? I couldn’t decide which title sounded better. To tell you the truth, neither description sounds as good as these taste. Despite the fact that I am a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’m not a big fan of quinoa. I feel like it’s an overused vegetarian protein that, most of the time, is not that interesting or delicious. But these crispy little cakes fix that problem.

As a family, we’ve been eating less meat this year, and so I’m always for ways to create new vegetarian-ish meals. I also try to develop recipes that freeze well, so Theo always has a good supply of dinner options for busy nights. Generally, he eats dinner at 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. and we don’t eat until after he goes to bed. It’s nice for Elie and I to be able to sit down at the table together and reconnect where we can actually talk and pay attention to each other, instead of having scattered conversations disjointed by the demands of an adorable toddler. 

Sometimes I get our dinner prepped early in the day, so Theo eats the same thing we’re eating, only earlier. Sometimes Theo will eat leftovers from our dinner the day before. Other times, I will pull something out of the freezer and re-heat it for his dinner. And every now and then, he eats scrambled eggs or a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. It’s real life. 

These quinoa cakes are packed with flavor from sautéed vegetables, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. High in protein from quinoa, oatmeal and eggs, one burger can make a complete meal for a little person. When you’re making these, feel free to switch up the combination of vegetables and herbs, depending on what you have on hand. Sometimes I’ll add in cooked, chopped spinach, finely chopped fennel and substitute basil or cilantro for the parsley.  From start to finish, these can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Elie and I like to eat these one of two ways. First, as a ‘burger,’ on a pretzel bun spread with spicy mustard and mayonnaise and layered with crispy lettuce, fresh slices of tomato and avocado. It’s delicious. Even better, serve the burger with roasted sweet potato fries.

Or, like pictured here, let the quinoa cake act as ‘toast’ for fresh sliced avocado, a lacy fried egg and fresh herbs. You could spread the quinoa cake with a spicy aioli or top it with a homemade hollandaise sauce. Both of those would be delicious

These quinoa cakes are a great make-ahead dish, as the mixture can keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. The cooked quinoa cakes are easily reheated, either from the refrigerator or freezer. Just pop them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or so, until they are heated through and crisp back up.

I hope you like these as much as we do!

Quinoa Cakes, aka Quinoa Burgers
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
  2. 4 large eggs, beaten
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus a pinch for seasoning vegetables
  4. 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 cup oatmeal
  6. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking burgers
  7. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  8. 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  9. 1 carrot, finely chopped
  10. 4 or 5 cremeni or button mushrooms, finely chopped
  11. 1 small zucchini, shredded
  12. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  13. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add the quinoa, eggs, salt, parmesan cheese and oatmeal and stir until combined. Let this mixture sit while you saute the vegetables.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent and the vegetables are just starting to brown. Stir occasionally.
  3. Pour the sauteed vegetables into the quinoa mixture and add the shredded zucchini, parsley and red pepper flakes. Stir together until combined.
  4. Heat a little olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, scoop out 1/4 cup of the mixture for a small burger or ½ cup mixture for a large burger. Pack the mixture into the measuring cup and then turn it out into the pan, flattening them into about 1/2-inch thickness. The mixture will be very loose until it starts to set in the pan.
  5. Cook on the first side for about 5 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned.
  6. Carefully flip the burgers with a spatula and cook the second side for about 5 minutes, or until browned.
  7. Remove from the skillet and keep warm while you cook the remaining patties.
Notes
  1. The quinoa mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  2. Cooked quinoa burgers can be stored in the freezer, tightly sealed in plastic ziplock bags, for up to three months. Just re-heat in a toaster oven until warmed all the way through.
Lisa Samuel http://www.simmstown.com/

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