I think it’s getting to be a dated notion that a big chunk of meat is the most essential component of any meal. But if you’re trying to eat vegetarian meals more often, sometimes it might feel like the “centerpiece” of the meal is missing. I sometimes struggle with this although I’ve been mostly vegetarian for many years, and I always marvel at how effortlessly a meal comes together when I’m serving a piece of fish. Of course it’s often fine not to have one food be the main attraction, but sometimes it’s nice to have a focal point of a vegetarian meal.
These quinoa cakes fit the bill nicely. They’re high in protein, low in effort (especially if you have some leftover plain or seasoned cooked quinoa), and their tidy presentation looks great on a plate. They could easily be served with a veggie side and/or salad for lunch or dinner. I made them for breakfast with salsa and sliced avocado, although they would also have been great topped with a fried egg. (Isn’t everything?) They’re versatile, I’m telling you. And tasty.
As usual, this is more of a template than a recipe. You can find a recipe, the one that this dish is based on, in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook. But I say wing it. You could stuff these with veggies, make them gooey cheesy, or spice them up with hot pepper. The essentials here are the quinoa, some eggs and breadcrumbs to hold it all together, alliums and herbs for flavoring, and some cheese (or salt!) for salt.Quinoa Cakes with Cheese, Garlic, and Herbs: Start with 2-3 c. cooked quinoa in a bowl (I used leftover Quinoa with Corn, Green Onions, and Feta; that link will also give you instructions for cooking plain quinoa). Mix in 4 beaten eggs, 1/2 tsp. salt, a finely chopped onion or bunch of green onions, a few big handfuls of herbs (think chives, parsley, cilantro, basil?), some minced garlic, and cheese (I used both crumbled feta and grated Parmesan). Add 1 c. breadcrumbs, stir well, and allow to sit for a few minutes so the breadcrumbs absorb some of the moisture. Form patties about 1″ thick. (If it’s not easy to form patties, adjust the consistency with additional beaten egg or breadcrumbs.) Cook in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat until well browned (about 10 minutes), then flip and brown the second side (about 8 more minutes). Move to a wire rack and cool or keep warm in a low oven while you make the remaining cakes.
p.s. for a good looking vegan and wheat-free alternative, check out Shira’s recipe today for Quinoa Protein Bites on In Pursuit of More: http://inpursuitofmore.com/2012/03/17/recipe-quinoa-protein-bites/