Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu

June 22nd, 2010

Quinoa, once considered “the gold of the Incas”, is a rich source of many healthful benefits. Although it is used like a grain, it is actually a seed that is a relative to spinach and swiss chard. It has all 8 of the amino acids needed to form a complete protein, so is particularily good for vegetarians who seek protein from sources other than meat. But the health benefits go beyond the protein. It is very high in fiber which contributes to cardiovascular health and manganese and copper which are antioxidants and aid in cell repair. The Inca warriors relied on quinoa to give them stamina during battle and, frankly, I can use all the stamina I can get these days. Quinoa is just one of those wonderful foods that will make you feel better.

We spent the weekend with our Son, Daughter-In-Law and Granddaughter. It was also our anniversary and Kristen and Michael treated us to an unbelievable evening of food and wine – more about that later. I am waiting for the recipes from the chef. On the evening that Kristen cooked she served these quinoa cakes with eggplant and tomato ragu with smoky mozzarella. They were delicious. The cakes were crispy and nutty.

The ragu was just perfect over them. The combination of eggplant, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic and smoked mozzarella was the perfect piquant foil to the mild quinoa cakes.

Served with a green salad with blueberries and strawberries and a homemade poppy seed viniagrette, it was goodness on a plate. Never mind that it was also so good for you.

For quinoa cakes:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 large egg, lightly beaten
dried parsley flakes or oregano to taste
4 to 5 tablespoon olivel oil, divided
For Ragu:
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 olive oil
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf
1/4 pound smoked mozzarella, diced (1 cup)
Make quinoa cakes:
Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt 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.
Stir quinoa into boiling water 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.

Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1 cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.
Make Ragu while quinoa chills:
Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.
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. Stir in tomatoes, roasted peppers, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick (if dry, thin with a little water), about 10 minutes.
Cook quinoa cakes:
Heat 2 tablespoon 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.
To serve, return eggplant ragu to a simmer and stir in parsley and half of mozzarella, then simmer stirring, until cheese just begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Spoon over quinoa cakes, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Cooks’ notes:
Quinoa cakes can be formed 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Eggplant-tomato ragu, withour parsley and mozzarella, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

I am entering this recipe in The Two for Tuesdays blog hop. Go over to Girlichef for all of the links to REAL food posts. We are a group of bloggers who post healthy, made from scratch, real food every Tuesday.

20 responses to “Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu”

  1. Bella says:

    Sounds delicious! And Happy Anniversary!

  2. Mary says:

    I’m send huge but belated wishes for a Happy Anniversary. How wonderful to be able to spend it with family. The quinoa looks wonderful and just reading it I can tell it is a great recipe. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  3. Happy Anniversary. This looks terrific!! Kristen sounds like she loves to cook as much as you!


  4. Thanks for making me look good, Penny! Loved every minute of having you and David here and we can’t wait to see you again soon!

  5. Melodie says:

    Yum! This looks delicious. I love eggplant and have never tried quinoa cakes although quinoa is a staple in my house. I am always on the look out for great vegetarian recipes. I have a Vegetarian Foodie Fridays carnival if you are ever interested in coming by and linking up.

  6. Happy Anniversary I am a sucker for a good romance, and welcome to the “Real Food” 2 for Tuesday wheel!

  7. grace says:

    i see quinoa every which way i turn these days, but this is actually a new way to use it for me–very excellent! heck, anything cake-like is a hit with me. 🙂

  8. This sounds so good. I want to try it. And Happy Anniversary!!! Love & blessings from NC!

  9. girlichef says:

    Happy Anniversary, Penny =) These quinoa cakes sound SO GOOD!! I’d have never thought to make it into cakes…I know I’d love this meal. Awesome Two for Tuesday post!!!

  10. Penny! Happy Anniversary and I SO have kitchen envy! I literally have 18 inches of useable counter space in my kitchen, but still make the real food effort! I love eggplant and Kristen’s recipe looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the real food love on this Two for Tuesday recipe blog hop! 🙂 Alex

  11. Looks delicious. I’m jealous of how many comments and visits you get to your blog. You are an inspiration to me! And Happy Anniversary to you! The leg of my July trip that was going to land me in NC is off. Instead I’m going straight to my second stop, which is Athens, GA. Maybe I will get to meet you in person some day. MG’s family is from the south, so there will be more trips in the future. Or if you ever find yourself in Hollywood…

  12. Beth says:

    Happy Anniversary! Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate! This meal sounds delicious and I love the idea for cooking quinoa in cakes like this! Brilliant. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for joining our Two for Tuesday blog hop this week! I’m so very glad that you did!

  13. What a great new idea for Quinoa, Penny. Also love the zucchini pancakes below. Very timely.

  14. This would be perfect for Meatless Mondays or any day for that matter.

  15. bonnie says:

    Happy Annivesary, I love these cakes…and topped with a rich agu oh I am bookmarking, I can’t wait to serve these when my mom visits, yum


  16. Big Dude says:

    I’ve been really busy the past few days and just getting caught up. Your meals for the past three days all look delicious.

  17. I’m thrilled to have this recipe and the preceding one. While we are not vegetarians, I do enjoy a good dish away from meat at least twice a week.



  18. Katy ~ says:

    Love to see quinoa recipes; this looks so good and healthy. Well done!

  19. katiez says:

    Quinoa Cakes! I love it. I’ve been looking for more recipes using quinoa. I have to admit, I never wash it first, though…. I don’t have a ‘fine mesh strainer’ LOL

  20. Sophie says:

    Your quinoa burgers are looking mighty tasty & very pretty too!

    I also love the added ragu!!

    MMMMMMMMMMM,….stunning & ooh so good for you food as well!

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