A wonderful addition to girl’s weekend and the BBQ at Dani’s. These are a vegetarian’s dream food, including all of the daily nutrients in one small “cake”.
For the cakes:
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tbs. tahini or almond butter
- 1 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup finely grated sweet potato
- 1/2 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbs. finely diced onion
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- 1 clove garlic, minced
For the sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups roasted red peppers, drained
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Start by pre-cooking your quinoa and pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking pan to keep the lumps of quinoa from later sticking to the pan and breaking apart.
Next, in a large bowl, mix together the egg, flour, red wine vinegar and tahini or nut butter. I chose almond butter because it was in the cabinet, but feel free to experiment with different flavors. Peanut butter is acceptable, but may be a little too much as it tends to overpower anything it’s added to. If you use peanut butter, I’d also use Asian spices like soy sauce, 5-spice powder, chili pepper or hoisin sauce instead of going the Indian spice route I took.
In the same bowl, add the remaining “cake” ingredients. If you don’t have frozen spinach, do like I did; take fresh spinach leaves, add a tsp. of water, cover with a paper towel or plastic wrap and microwave for 20 seconds. It will wither into a similar fashion as the frozen spinach making it easier to blend into the hodgepodge of vegetables and grains.
Take a handful of the medley and create a hockey puck like shape, placing the final result on your baking pan repeating until all the mix is gone. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 25 minutes or until the tops of the “cakes” are brown and creating a crusty outer shell.
While the main part of the dish is cooking you can quickly blend together the sauce ingredients. Combine everything in a small blender or Magic Bullet. I left out the almonds in mine, but they would pair nicely with the almond butter in the quinoa cakes. Blend until smooth.
When your entree is fully cooked, remove from the oven and either drizzle the roasted red pepper almond sauce on top or serve next to the “cakes” for dipping. I tried the sauce both cold and hot. Either way works because the quinoa vegetable “cakes” are served piping hot, warming the sauce when it’s mixed together in your mouth.
As Dani’s stepbrother stated so well, “It looks like bird food.” And it does, but it the taste trumps looks in this recipe.
The acidity of the sauce and watery nature soaks right into the absorbent quinoa. Bursts of cumin and curry tango with candied sweet potato, green spinach, nutty flavors and sweet onions. The bitterness often associated with spinach is drawn out with the acidic red wine vinegar and these both evenly pair with the nutty aspect of the almond butter, toasted almonds in the dressing and walnuts (which add a perfect amount of crunch). This dish is a vegetarian’s dream, carrying protein in the quinoa and so many vitamin-rich vegetables mixed in one “cake”. You’ll never know you’re eating healthy the way everything rounds to a patty-like conformity melding with each bite. The sauce is a must as it smooths all the spices to a consistent sapidity.