Golden Quinoa Cakes with Salsa Fresca

August 26, 2013
1 Rating
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

These cakes are the product of an entirely different initial agenda. You see, I’ve been on a Hatch chile mission, scouring my local Whole Foods every August for the past two years. Ever since testing and falling in love with cookinginvictoria’s (Hi Paula!) delicious Huevos Rancheros (Country-Style Eggs Topped with Pork and Green Chile), I’ve wanted to make them with the chiles preferred by the author’s grandmother. I’ve had close encounters and false promises -- once even tweeting with a foodie acquaintance on Maui: she said her WF had them and jested should she bring some over for me? I should have said yes, because I’ve never found them here in Honolulu until last week. When I saw them, I quickly filled a bag, nearly salivating just thinking about cookinginvictoria’s recipe. As I made a mental grocery list of all the other ingredients I’d need for the porky goodness, it occurred to me that quinoa cakes seasoned with the right combination of spices, Hatch chiles, and some cheddar might be tasty. Topping said cakes with a summery raw salsa might make them even tastier. The results did not disappoint. But don’t worry, I’m going to use the rest of my roasted Hatch chiles for Huevos Rancheros. —gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

I love quinoa and am always looking for interesting new ways to use this wonderful grain. Gingerroot’s quinoa cakes are packed with flavor, a real treat for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. They have a great crunchy bite on the outside, and the insides are moist with a lovely blend of spices and a gentle kick from the Hatch chile. I had no trouble forming the patties, and they held together very well. The salsa fresca is tasty and keeps the cakes moist. These are definitely my new favorite vegetarian cakes and I look forward to trying them with different cheeses, vegetables, and sauces many times! —Kukla

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes twelve 3- to 4-inch cakes, or many bite-sized ones
  • For golden quinoa cakes
  • 1 Hatch chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour (also labeled "Mochiko")
  • 1 splash canola oil for frying the cakes
  • For the salsa fresca
  • 2 French breakfast radishes, diced (or 4 round radishes, diced)
  • 8 to 10 sweet cherry or pear tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your broiler and roast the chile (might as well roast a few and then freeze for use in another recipe, like Huevos Rancheros) until wrinkled and blackened, turning once. Place roasted chile in a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap to make it easier to remove the skin. When cool, carefully remove skin (the tip of a sharp knife is helpful), stem, and as much of the membrane and seeds as you'd like -- keeping more will yield a spicier result. Dice chile, using gloves if desired.
  2. While chile is roasting, toast whole coriander and cumin over medium heat, until fragrant, in a Dutch oven or similar pot. Transfer whole spices to a bowl and crush with the back of a spoon or pestle.
  3. Place Dutch oven back onto the burner and melt butter, stirring, until it begins to brown and smells nutty. Add quinoa and stir, constantly, until it begins to get golden and toasty. At this point I always think it smells a little bit like deliciously roasted cheese.
  4. Add two cups of water, crushed whole spices, and a good pinch of salt. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 to 17 minutes. Spread hot quinoa out on a large rimmed baking sheet to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, the diced Hatch chile, and the remaining ingredients (from egg through sweet rice flour). Stir to thoroughly combine and then let mixture sit for a few minutes to hydrate the flour.
  6. Meanwhile, combine radishes, tomatoes, avocado, and lemon in a bowl. Add salt to taste and let mixture sit until ready to eat.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Set out a large rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. If you want to make larger (3- to 4-inch) cakes, scoop quinoa mixture with a quarter cup measure, tap against your open palm to release, and then flatten the cake with the back of the cup measure before placing on the waxed paper. Repeat with remaining cake mixture. For bite-sized cakes, use a tablespoon to scoop and flatten the mixture.
  8. Cook the cakes in the skillet for about 3 minutes per side, until crisp and golden. Transfer to a serving platter. Continue cooking the remaining cakes, using additional oil if necessary.
  9. Right before serving, stir cilantro and sour cream in to salsa fresca. Top cakes with salsa fresca and enjoy.
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Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.