Ok, so remember when I was obsessed with kale and everything kale? Well, I’m still pretty obsessed with kale, but now I’m obsessed with quinoa as well. I have figured out my favorite way to eat quinoa, and that is warm, liked warmed up in patties or a cereal rather than cold like in a salad. I’ve made more quinoa dishes in the last few months than I have in the past year that I’ve been blogging. First, there were these quinoa patties. Super yummy, easy to make and healthy.
Then I tried quinoa for breakfast with steel-cut oats and goji berries. Say what, quinoa for breakfast? Oh yes, try it! It’s my new favorite way to start the day. It’s a power house of a breakfast.
Now, I ventured into a crispier and cheesier quinoa cake. Hey, I was thinking of my kids here, because they were not the biggest fans of the other quinoa patties. Kid verdict? Zoe liked them better than the other ones, (that’s a step in the right direction, still working on her) and Eli LOVED them, so I would say that this recipe was a success. Dry toasting the quinoa before simmering it in the broth adds such a depth of flavor, and the quinoa gets all browned in color and forms into these tiny little balls. The mozzarella cheese gets all melty and crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. These cakes remind me in a weird but healthier way, of mozzarella cheese sticks. I know that’s a strange way to describe them, but they are crispy, cheesy and chewy cakes. I mean who said that healthy foods have to taste healthy, right? Just give them a try and if you like quinoa and cheese, then you will love these.
recipe from The Supper Club
makes 10 cakes
- 1 3/4 cups (14 oz/440 g) quinoa
- 1 1/3 cups (11 fl oz/345 ml) vegetable stock or water – I used vegetable stock as it adds more flavor
- 1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose flour
- 5 ounces (155 g) low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (6-mm) – 5 ounces is about half of a standard sized mozzarella rectangle, or 3 1/4-inches by 21/4-inches if you want to be exact. If you go over or under a bit on the cheese, it’s totally ok!
- 1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
- 4 green onions, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks – only use large eggs here, not extra large
- safflower, canola or olive oil for frying – You can use any high heat oil of preference here.
I use this brand of organic quinoa, as it doesn’t require any rinsing, plus it’s on sale right now at Whole Foods!
Heat up a heavy-bottomed saucepan (I used my Le Crueset Dutch oven, which I notice is on sale right now on Amazon) over medium-high heat and add the dry quinoa. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes. You will hear the quinoa make a crackling sound almost like popcorn popping as it’s cooking. You will also smell a nutty aroma.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until all the water or broth is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, but with a bit of a bite remaining at the center, 10-12 minutes. You should take a peek at the quinoa at the 7 minute mark just to see how it’s coming along, and give it a quick stir as well. Once the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large bowl to cool completely. I use the same bowl that I’m going to make the patties in. If you want it to cool faster, throw it in the fridge for a bit.
While the quinoa is cooling, lets prep the rest of the ingredients. Cut up your 5-ounces of mozzarella cheese into small 1/4-inch pieces. The cubes by no means have to be exact in shape and size, (it’s not baking here) you just want them to be small enough as they are going to be in the quinoa cakes and you don’t want huge chunks in there.
Separate your two egg yolks. I love using this egg separating tool as it makes so easy. I know there are many different ways to separate eggs, but I love my gadgets, so this is how I do it. Don’t let those egg whites go to waste. I take them and throw them on a lightly buttered skillet for some fried eggs whites, yum!
Lastly, measure out your flour and Parmesan cheese. Don’t have grated parmesan on hand, but have shredded? Here’s a quick and easy trick to get some grated parmesan. Measure out your shredded cheese and then get out your mini food processor, process the cheese and presto, it instantly turns into grated cheese. I do this often as I usually don’t have grated cheese on hand. You can also do this trick with solid parmesan cheese.
Add to the cooled quinoa the flour, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Stir until the mixture comes together and resembles a soft dough. I used a spatula at first to mix everything around and to get the eggs blended in, and then I just went in there with my hands so that it all got mixed together well. I mean you’re going to be making the patties next with your hands, so why not just get them messy.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the mixture into 10 cakes, each about 2-inches (5 cm) in diameter and 1 1/2-inches (4 cm) thick. It’s truly like making burger patties. You just press down and mold the patties in the palm of your hand. The dough actually mixes together very easily, almost like play dough. Your hands will get a bit sticky and by the end of making these patties, your hands will be covered in a somewhat sticky flour and quinoa mixture. Set each cake on the prepared baking sheet as you finish. After all of the cakes have been made, place them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Get out a large non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet, and pour in the oil to a depth of 1/4-inch (6 mm). I don’t measure out 1/4-inch exactly, I just put in enough to cover the bottom of the pan and then some. If you don’t want to use that much oil, then I will show you another way at the bottom of the post. I do have to say that I prefer the cakes when cooked this way. Heat the skillet and oil over medium-high heat until the oil is simmering, but not smoking. You will hear some pops and then you will know the oil is ready.
Fry the cakes, turning once with a spatula or a pair of tongs, until golden brown and crisp, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked cakes to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining 5 cakes. Remember, the second batch cooks up much quicker than the first, so keep an eye on those cakes. I love how the cheese oozes out of the cakes as they’re cooking ,and then it gets all brown and crisp, almost like a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum!
Now, I really prefer to cook the quinoa cakes the above way because I feel like the cakes get crispy and all gooey and melty in the center and the sides of the cakes seem to get browned up as well, but if you feel at odds with using so much oil, I get it. I cooked up this below batch with just 2 tablespoons of oil. I did add a touch more when I flipped them over. They are great this way as well! It’s all about personal preference here. You can try and cook them both ways and see which you prefer.
Got leftovers? Just throw them in a 250-degree oven to warm them up.