Monday, October 11, 2010

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu

Quinoa is commonly known as The Super Grain (even though it's actually more closely related to leafy greens than any grains). It has loads of protein, amino acids, magnesium, iron, etc. Yes, it's good for you. And I think it also happens to taste good, which is lucky for me since I accidentally bought $14 worth of on-sale quinoa from the bulk section of Sunflower Market. It just kept gushing out of the bin and into my bag...so brace yourself for more quinoa recipes in the next few weeks.

Today our quinoa is served in "cake" form with an eggplant-based sauce over the top. I loved them. My husband, who is not so keen on eggplant, also really liked them, but may have preferred zucchini as the main ingredient. Either way, they look lovely. 


Being as these are a bit time consuming (making the quinoa cakes takes a little while including freezing time and then you still have to fry them), our time saving alternative is to serve the eggplant sauce over plain cooked quinoa. Still delicious, still nutritious, just speedier. The next time I make these, and believe me, there will be a next time, I might double the quinoa cake part and freeze half of them to have ready at any moment.


Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu
Recipe adapted from Gourmet February 2008
Pictures by Caroline


For quinoa cakes
  • 1 1/2 vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Meanwhile, wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Stir quinoa into boiling broth and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. 
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.
  4. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap or foil. Form quinoa into 2 inch balls, place on baking sheet and press to make a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patty. Freeze until very firm, 15-30 minutes.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates.

For sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • shredded mozzarella for topping
  1. Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper, and broth and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick (if dry, thin with a little water), about 10 minutes.
  3. Spoon over quinoa cakes, then sprinkle with mozzarella.

5 comments:

Alizon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alizon said...

One of the super things about quinoa is that it is gluten-free and high in protein. Ok that's two things. I noticed you've got a bunch of gluten-free recipes! Yippee

QuinoaDietTips said...

Such a great recipe. That's what I like about quinoa. It's so versatile, you can mix it with anything.

Brooke said...

Ok, so we LOVED this! But my sauce turned out a little watery and thus made the veggies kind of mushy - any suggestions?

two little chefs said...

Brooke- Try using less broth next time (add it gradually if your sauce is too thick). I've also heard that Japanese eggplant (the skinnier ones) have less water in them. Or if you're using globe eggplant (the fat ones) you can salt it before cooking to remove some of the water.

To salt the eggplant, cut it up and then sprinkle the pieces generously with salt and let them sit in a colander for an hour. Rinse the eggplant in plenty of water to remove the salt. Firmly squeeze a few pieces at a time in the palm of your hand to draw out almost all the moisture. Then pat the eggplant dry with paper towels.

But that's a lot of work, so I usually don't salt my eggplant. :)

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