Perfect Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach and Feta

I am so happy that I am armed with a few really great books. It should be mentioned that last night’s dinner was from a cookbook that won “Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World, 2003.”  Not bad right? To be honest we have not once made a recipe from this book that did not blow us away or left us feeling like, “where’s the meat?”

We enjoy eating vegetarian at least 50% of the time because it’s easier on the pocket book, the flavors tend to be more interesting and the ingredient list is always fun. Cafe Paradiso Seasons is one of the most delightful presents we have received because it continues to bring us joy, meal after meal. Do yourself a favor and pick up this cookbook. You can buy it through the Amazon by clicking on My Favorites on the right side of the page.

The only downfall to this book is that it does have an intimidation factor that is quite high. Stacked food with several different layers, requiring time consuming preparation. At least that is what most people notice right away. But hidden in this beautiful book are fast simple recipes always accompanied by an interesting story or information that I am happy I read. This is one of those recipes I have avoided due to the fuss factor but decided to give it a try. The whole thing  turned out to be relatively easy and I will be making this again and again. We switched some things around, because I’m terrible at following directions, and a chronic recipe changer. But not because the recipe wasn’t already perfect. I also happened to have a few things in the fridge that made this so incredibly easy to make and added a fun twist.

I love that these little galettes hold their shape perfectly until it goes in the mouth. Then it falls apart into tiny perfectly flavored pearls. The delicately flavored quinoa is a perfect match for the robust flavor of red peppers that pack heat and Indian inspired spice.  There’s the fun crunch of the occasional coriander seed and the soft nutty texture that only pine nuts have. Though you might think that the beet relish is an odd addition, you’ll be surprised how nicely this sweet, earthy relish adds a pleasant finish.

Quinoa Cakes (or galette) with Feta and Cilantro

  • 1 cup quinoa
    2 cup chicken stock or good tasting vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
    handful chopped  cilantro
    salt and pepper
    2 green onions
    2 eggs beaten

Start by toasting the quinoa in a large pot with a little bit of oil. Once the seeds start to brown, add the broth and simmer for 20 minutes covered. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow to cool enough so that the eggs don’t cook when they get added. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Scoop a 1/2 cup of the mixture and pack it into the measuring cup. This will create a nice round pattie. Place the quinoa into a non stick pan (I did spray mine with a little bit of oil but I doubt it’s necessary if you have a good pan) and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula or flipper doodle (highly technical term). These patties stay together surprisingly well! I was very impressed. Cook on medium heat until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of roasted peppers (below) and top with a Tbsp of Beet Relish.

Originally (Paradiso) this recipe was made with couscous, we decide to use quinoa instead. This recipe does not work well with left over couscous, so don’t even bother, but it does work well with left over quinoa and then there’s the benefit of all that extra protein. Also a good time saving tip is to cook a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and have the leftovers in a multiple array of dishes. See below for quick leftover quinoa ideas.

Roasted Red Peppers with Spinach and Pine Nuts

  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
    1 tsp coriander seeds crushed
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1/4 tsp chili flakes
    1 tbsp olive oil
    4 roasted peppers
    142g container of clean spinach
    1/2 onion

I happened to have made roasted peppers earlier with the hopes of making this recipe. I tend to roast a large batch of veggies all at once to save me time. Those of you partaking in The Whole Food Revelation will find this very familiar. So in went the peppers, beets, and squash (for squash ricotta gnocchi which was DE-lish). I find this makes my life a lot easier. Roasted peppers from a jar would work easily as well, so feel free to use that cheat.

Start by toasting the crushed coriander seeds and cumin for 30 seconds in a frying pan. Add the oil, chopped onions, chili flakes and pine nuts. Cook this concoction for 5 to 7 minutes or until onions start to soften. Add the peppers (broken into large pieces) and once they are heated through, add the fresh spinach. Turn the heat off and allow the heat of the ingredients to wilt the spinach.

Beet Relish

  • 2 beets roasted or 2/3 cups grated roasted beets
    3 tsp balsamic reduction
    1 green onion, whites only, thinly sliced

Definitely cheating here. This took my husband about 3 minutes flat to whip this up. Though it could be done from scratch if you grated raw beets, added 2 Tbsp of Balsamic, 2 tsp of brown sugar and cook it in a small pan until syrupy. But I happened to have balsamic reduction and cooked beets so this was no fuss relish at it’s best. I added some very finely chopped  green onion but this could be omitted. Serve on top of the quinoa galettes or eat by the spoonful. YUM.

Quinoa Ideas
Add to any soup,  or serve with a poached egg on top for a protein packed breakfast (great with Sriracha  sauce). It also makes a lovely salad with fresh vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and your favorite dressing. Use quinoa instead of rice or potatoes or it also makes a great accompaniment to chili or stews.

Two other quinoa recipes you may want to look at…

quinoa nectarine salad with cumin

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10 Responses to Perfect Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach and Feta

  1. maiylah September 20, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    gorgeous recipe! interesting how versatile quinoa can be…

  2. France Morissette September 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Thanks Maiylah. I love figuring out different ways to incorporate it into meals, no matter the time of day!

  3. Jenn Erickson/Rook No. 17 September 27, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    Sounds like a cookbook that is definitely worth a look judging from your review and this amazing meal! Thank you so much for sharing your quality, style, originality and panache at Rook No. 17!


  4. Dee January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Wow, what an amazing meal. We made it for our New Year’s Dinner and it was completely delicious. I’m curious about the cookbook and tempted to find a copy.. are there alot of other gluten free recipes in it?

    • France Morissette January 2, 2012 at 12:31 am #

      Hi Dee, There are quite a few gluten free recipes but not all of them are. I would say it’s an 70/30. It’s fairly simple to make substitutions with quinoa, millet or legumes and beans. Hope that helps.

  5. Dee January 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks so much! I just stumbled on your blog with this post but it looks like you have a lot of great stuff here :)


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