In July, Courtsie and I were in Vermont to be the camp “chefs” for an adventure cycling tour. We somehow managed to cook breakfast and dinner for six days for 24 hungry riders … in campgrounds! Let me just say, that was probably the hardest either of us had ever worked in our lives, but we met great people and we loved Vermont. It was so gloriously green and beautiful. There’s a good reason why they call their mountains the Green Mountains! Anyway, before the tour began, we treated ourselves to dinner at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington, and one of our favorite dishes was their Crispy Quinoa Cakes, made with corn and zucchini in addition to quinoa and who knows what else! They were absolutely delicious and it reminded us that we’ve been wanting to create our own “veggie burger”, because the packaged ones don’t always fill the bill.
So, we set about creating this recipe and are so happy with the results. We wanted something that had a crispy edge, but stayed moist in the middle and had plenty of spice. We didn’t want to use oats, but rather quinoa, which has some protein, and we added toasted walnuts, flax meal and millet — all delicious and healthy ingredients. You could certainly add grilled corn or sautéed spinach or even zucchini for your own variation. We made these burger size for dinner, but then the next day we made the rest of the mixture into little cakes for a side dish. They are tasty enough to serve all by themselves, but a creamy avocado-cilantro-lime dipping sauce never hurt anyone!
Sometimes we make these with garbanzo beans, but we really do prefer them with black beans, because they lend themselves so well to the flavor profiles in the rest of the ingredients. They just seem a bit heartier, too, with black beans. Either way is delicious, though, so you really can’t go wrong!
Savory Quinoa Cakes
- Food processor
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa Any color you like – we’ve used both red and traditional for this recipe
- 2 tbsp. raw millet
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed can also use garbanzo beans, but we prefer black beans for this recipe
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped can also use pecans, if you prefer
- 4 tbsp. flax meal, divided
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. powdered cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Cook quinoa according to directions. Use 3/4 cup of the cooked quinoa.
- Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add chopped onion and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat, until translucent and beginning to brown. Set aside and don’t clean the pan, because you can use the same pan to cook the quinoa cakes!
- Purée black beans in your food processor until mostly smooth. A few chunks is okay and even good! This is where you may need to add the water to get the beans to process well.
- Spoon the puréed beans into a mixing bowl and add quinoa, millet, onions and garlic, walnuts, Worcestershire, half of the flax meal, and all of the herbs and spices. Mix thoroughly and divide into 4 large patties, or 8 small patties for appetizer size.
- Sprinkle the remaining flax meal on a plate and gently coat both sides of the quinoa cakes. This provides a nice crunchy outer edge once you cook them.
- Heat a little bit of olive oil in the frying pan that you used for the shallots over medium heat. Place the quinoa cakes in the pan and cook over medium-high heat to brown both sides of the patties. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, or until heated through.
- Serve with a bun and all of your favorite burger fixings, if you are making these as veggie burgers, or if you plan to serve the smaller quinoa cakes as a side dish or appetizer, you might want to serve them with a creamy cilantro avocado sauce. (Avocado, cilantro, garlic, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, lime juice plus your favorite hot sauce.)