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Quinoa Cakes with Purple Cauliflower

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© 2012 Helana Brigman
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After reading the most recent issue of Bon Appétit–one with a lovely spread on healthy grains and seeds–I wanted to introduce everyone I knew to Quinoa, nature’s most powerful seed (or, healthy “grain”).  But first, I settled for my boyfriend.

Quinoa is one of those fabulous grain-like crops that can be found in boxes (like couscous) at your neighborhood market or the bulk aisle of Whole Foods.  It goes great in cold summer salads (think pasta salad meets healthy, healthy, healthy) and tossed with soft feta, crisp summer veggies, and your choice of olive oil, lemon juice, or basil. It soaks up flavor while supplying your stomach with a wonderful source of natural protein (about 18% for the average serving) and calcium, magnesium, and iron.

I skipped the cold summer salad for today’s post in light of these lovely Quinoa Cakes I found at What Would Cathy Eat?.  They hold a striking resemblance to these Couscous Cakes of a previous post.  The difference? The texture is fluffier, less citrus-y, and highly nutritious.

Pictured: Purple Cauliflower is an ancestral variety of the cauliflower family (from the Italian group).  Lovely and simple, it tastes the same as blanched white cauliflower and cooks the same.

Besides the nutritious value of using anything Quinoa, I’ve added purple cauliflower to bring a vibrant hue to an otherwise brown-ish dish.  This simple Quinoa batter makes a lovely “cake,” but I must warn that like crab cakes and couscous cakes, it struggles to stick together.  Follow the ingredients list below for wonderful flavor and don’t give yourself too hard of a time if the cakes crumble when flipping.  A good tip is to be gentle when flipping the cake (feel free to pick it up with your spatula and use a fork to steady it pinning the cake between the two).  Cooked until crusty and golden, this recipe might be the bast way to introduce anyone to Quinoa.

Quinoa Cakes with Purple Cauliflower

I’ve adapted this recipe from the blog What Would Cathy Eat? here.  I’ve also swapped out roasted garlic for fresh, swapped out regular cauliflower for purple, and used less olive oil and more water when prepping the vegetables.

Note: see reader Becky’s comments below about adjusting this recipe for pan-frying (1 extra tablespoon water and 1 extra egg).  Give her adaption a try!


*1 1/2 cups quinoa

*3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*1/2 cup water

*1/2 dozen small purple cauliflower heads, broken into small florets

*1 cup shredded carrots

*3/4 cup onion, chopped

*3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

*1 egg

*2 tablespoons cornmeal

*1 tablespoon corn starch

*coarse salt & pepper, to taste

*1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

*zest of one lemon

*2 tablespoons olive oil

1.) Cook quinoa: bring 2 1/4 cups water to a boil and add quinoa.  Reduce heat to medium and cook quinoa for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally.  (Note: quinoa, like rice, will be done when the water has cooked down completely and the grain is fully cooked all the way through.)

2.) Warm a large non-stick saucepan with olive oil and whisk in water.  Add cauliflower, carrots, and onions and stir to coat.  Cover pan and cook down vegetables for 10 minutes making sure to check at five minutes and stir.  Remove lid from vegetables at ten minutes and roast for an additional five minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3.) Remove vegetables from heat, drain well, and add to a food processor with garlic, egg, cornmeal, corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Pulse to combine and taste for more salt and pepper.

4.) In a medium bowl, mix quinoa with parsley and lemon.  Then, add in pureed vegetables and mix until fully combined.

5.) Shape quinoa mixture into patties (about 4-inches in diameter) and refrigerate for at least one hour but no more than overnight.

6.) When ready to cook quinoa cakes, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry patties on each side until golden brown and slightly crunchy ) about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second.  Transfer to a plate and enjoy.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Quinoa salad

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Quinoa Cakes with Purple Cauliflower, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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  1. Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | #

    Wow that cauliflower is beautiful, I’ve never seen such a thing. I love quinoa! These cakes look awesome, wonderful job 🙂

  2. Posted August 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm | #

    Thanks for the kind feedback Bridget! Let me know if you make the recipe–I had some trouble (initially) with getting the cakes to stick together, but I’d love another food bloggers take on these Quinoa Cakes!

  3. Becky
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 10:44 am | #

    I added a 2 Tbs of water and 1 extra egg to the food processor. Had no problem with flipping the patties! These were sooooo good!

  4. Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm | #

    Becky–that’s a great tip! I will make a note above to help future readers who test this recipe!


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