To say I fell behind on spring cleaning this year would be an understatement. I didn’t start until a few weeks ago–in the middle of summer. Enough was enough. My photography props have found their way into almost every room in my home, my pantry was a serious mess and my closets were a joke. To visiting friends and family my home may have looked clean and inviting but I knew that my closet and pantry doors protected a lie–they hid the serious disarray that I couldn’t ignore any longer.
So over the last few weeks I’ve been cleaning up closets, kitchen drawers and my pantry. I was tired after each day of clean-up but happy and satisfied, too, knowing I was getting closer to having a tidy, orderly home again. I finally made the time to empty out one closet to dedicate the space for prop items only and for a few days I found myself opening the door just to admire the organized stacks of plates, bowls and color-coded fabric swatches and napkins. I would smile at my handiwork and mentally pat myself on the back. Do you ever do that?
In my pasta/grain cabinet, I discovered multiple bags each of spelt, barley, bulgur wheat and quinoa. These items don’t get used as often as they should in the kitchen but I obviously like to buy them. Finding three bags of quinoa prompted me to finally make a dish I’ve been meaning to make, a quinoa salad which I will share on another post soon.
These cakes were merely a by-product of that salad but I was so happy with the way they turned out I had to share them first. I cooked two cups of raw quinoa and ended up with much more than I needed for the salad. I had to use it all up. You always hear me say that I used what I already had in the kitchen but it was true in this case, too. I threw together the quinoa with bell peppers, green onions, parsley, Parmesan cheese and spices but I’ll admit that I was not optimistic as I formed the patties. Would they have enough flavor? They also seemed very fragile and I wondered if the little bit of flour and two eggs I added to the mixture would be enough to hold them together as they baked.
Not only did these cakes smell fantastic as they baked–I didn’t realize that toasted quinoa would go so well with Parmesan cheese and the spices I used–but they held their shape perfectly. There was no need to be gentle with them as I flipped them over to brown the other side nor did they give me trouble when I transferred them out of the baking sheet.
And the taste? These were not bland like I feared they might be. Toasted nutty quinoa with the sharp Parmesan, fresh veggies, the cumin adding some depth and the cayenne pepper a bit of kick–this was a winner especially with the yogurt-dill dip I served alongside the cakes. Crab cakes are usually my first choice for savory cakes but I didn’t miss the meat at all in this vegetarian version. They’re baked instead of fried; healthy and tasty. There’s no question now how I’ll use up the rest of the quinoa in my pantry.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (a little less than one cup uncooked)
- 1 stalk green onions, chopped using both green and white parts
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (I used half green and half yellow)
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use 1-2 cloves fresh, finely chopped)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon no-salt seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sumac (you can substitute with zest of one lemon)
- A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- ***For the Dip***
- 3 Tablespoons yogurt (I use nonfat yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon Mayo (I use Vegenaise), optional. You can just use 4 tbsn yogurt instead
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Pinch of salt
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions. I cooked two cups raw quinoa in 3½ cups vegetable stock and ended up with 5-6 cups cooked. I used two cups cooked for this recipe. If cooking quinoa for this recipe, wait for the quinoa to cool before using.
- To make the dip, combine the dip ingredients in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the cakes.
- To make the cakes, combine the cooked quinoa, Parmesan, green onions, bell pepper, parsley, garlic, cumin, no-salt seasoning, cayenne pepper, sumac, black pepper, flour, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl.
- Form into roughly two-inch patties by first rolling into a ball in your palms then flattening a bit. They will seem fragile but they won’t fall apart at all. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
- When you’re ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes on one side them flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes until they’re golden and crisp. Serve warm with the yogurt-dill dip.