Keen on Quinoa


A few months back, gansie ripped out this Gourmet recipe for quinoa cakes with eggplant-tomato-ragu and mozzarella and passed it on to me with the notation “this looks a-mazing but I can’t even be bothered to read all the directions. Poss you and Alex?”

It did indeed look a-mazing (quinoa over couscous any day of the week) so I held on to it, bought some quinoa to have on reserve, and recently we finally got around to it. Unfortunately, I should have read all the directions a little closer myself, because I did not quite grasp how epic a process this would be. Gourmet estimates the time at 1.25 hrs and this is a total lie. You have to boil the quinoa, let it cool, mix it up with egg, let it cool more, form the quinoa into patties, chill these – and this is all before you even start actually cooking them up. I would estimate more like double – 2.5 hrs, in real person cooking time. Long story short, I wouldn’t make these from scratch again, but if I had leftover quinoa, I would go this route to use it up – it’s a tasty idea. Full adventure detailed after the j.

I won’t reprint the recipe here, you can just head over to epicurious. The basic idea is you mix quinoa up with egg, then pack it into a measuring cup and flip it over (sand-castle style) to make a solid quinoa cake, then fry this up in oil. Their directions are pretty good – our only beef (aside from the ungodly amount of time it took) is that ours fell apart way more than we felt they should; they just seemed too big to hold together. Perhaps this is some flaw in my technique, but as you can see form Gourmet’s photo, they have their ragu placed strategically around the sides of their cake, so I’m guessing they’re just covering up some problem sections there. So I went the same route in my photo, but I would recommend making them smaller – maybe a half measuring cup instead of a whole, and I bet they would stay together.

Of course, not being able to follow directions, we had to make a few modifications. We wanted the cakes themselves to have a little flavor, so we mixed some chopped sun-dried tomatoes in with them, which I really liked. And for the topping, while theirs looked delicious, we approached this as a fridge-emptying meal, and since I had some frozen scallops on hand, we just cooked these up with red pepper, zucchini and tomato, to make a cool little ragu of our own. (Is this a ragu? I think probably not, but I have no idea what word to use instead.)

You may also like


  • gansie June 2, 2008  

    whoa—alex ate scallops!

    and glad i passed this monstrous recipe on to you. but i still do need to try quinoa.

  • Maidelitala June 2, 2008  

    I’ll make you some quinoa gansie-doll.. but not as fried cakes. Those sound way too time intensive.
    BS, frozen scallops?!!? for shame! Didn’t spike getting the boot teach you anything? did Alex like the salads? I tried one once and it reminded me of a sad chewy little heart of palm… not worth killing a semi-sentient being for that taste in my boca, thought I.

  • Maidelitala June 2, 2008  

    btw… it looks really tasty

  • BS June 2, 2008  

    i know, i know – semi-sinful on the frozen scallops, but I grabbed them on an impulse buy and actually really liked – sure, they are no fresh scallops but the fresh ones you gotta buy day of right? and these are a tasty, easily defrostable alternative (even if they would get me kicked off Top Chef)

  • Alex June 2, 2008  

    Alex did like the scallops…as some of our more discerning friends like to point out, though I call myself a vegetarian, I am actually a pescatarian who doesn’t really like fish.

    We also thought the same sort of technique could be used for other grainy cakes…wild rice maybe?

Leave a comment